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.