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Writing Arts/Essays
Date Posted:6/24

Lying Leads to Resigning
by: Tarah Young

Earlier in April, the New York Times discovered that reporter Jayson Bliar had plagiarized the majority of his stories. He claims that he did this as a result of the tragic events of September 11th. Although the Times printed a long, in-depth retraction of his various stories, they never actually explained why executive editor, Howell Raines, and managing editor, Gerald M. Boyd, allowed Blair to put these stories in the paper. In the public eye, there were many speculations as to whether the two executives knew of the numerous fabrications.
Of course, many were in shock about the false articles written by Blair, but they were in even more shock when Raines and Boyd resigned on the morning of June 5th. After the immediate feeling of shock, came one of anger. Science writer, Donald G. Mc Neil Jr. said that Blair had, “opened the floodgates of anger.” Arthur Ochs Sulkbuger Jr., the publisher and chairman of the paper had a conflicting opinion.” They made a sacrifice for the good of a newspaper they love,” he said in reference to the resignations of Boyd and Raines. If Bliar had never committed such a crime, there would have never been a need for the resignations of these two well-established men. On the morning of June 5th, Sulkburger stood with them as they announced their resignations to the staff. Sulkburger fully supported the two by saying, “They felt this was necessary to bring an end to this, and at the end of the day, I sadly agreed with them.” In a memo to the staff, found on the Associated Press website, Sulkberger informs them that Joe Leyveld (an ex-member of the staff) will return as an interim executive editor. There were many factors in this scandal that led to the decisions made by the prominent newspaper’s staff.
One major factor in this scandal is Jayson Blair’s race. He is a young, black male. Many believe that he is the downfall to the hiring of minorities in journalism. Will this scandal really jeopardize the amount of minorities we see in journalism? One Harlem student of T.Y.W.L.S (The Young Women’s Leadership School), Melissa Alvarado, expresses her opinion. “I believe that Jayson Blair not only did an injustice to his readers, he also did an injustice to minorities overall.” When asked how this will affect the image of writers who are minorities she replied, “Blair not only took away from his readers, he also fell right into the stereotype of black men being liars.” She goes on to say that, “Blair, who I am sure at the time viewed it as simply elaborating on a truth, was actually using yellow journalism (a tactic used in previous wars in which writers would actually lie about events), which in my opinion is as bad as someone screaming fire in a crowded movie theater. If Blair wishes to write fiction, he should write books, not news.” Another student, Danielle Harris, states, “The situation with Blair is funny, but sad. He is a prime example of what some people are willing to do to fit into society. Blair was looking for attention and fame and like many others he was willing to lie for it.”
In his farewell speech, Raines said that he was proud of what they had accomplished so far, and that he is confident that they will achieve the goals that their publisher had mapped out for them. He even said to his ex-staff, “When a big story breaks out, go like hell.” He probably would have never thought that he would be the subject of one of those stories.


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