Misguided journalist hurts all
To say The New York Times has “a huge black eye,” as Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. was quoted as saying in his own newspaper on Sunday, May 11, is quite possibly the understatement of the year.
Sulzberger Jr. was referring to the unmitigated plagiarism and false reporting perpetrated by one of his own reporters, Jayson Blair, 27, who resigned from The Times on May 1.
Blair apparently had a brief, but checkered career with The Times, frequently turning in sloppy work. However, after written warnings and some personal time off, Blair returned to work and was promoted to the paper’s national desk, where he was assigned to the Beltway sniper case last fall.
As it turns out, Blair had fabricated most of his work in the past several months since the sniper shootings in suburban Washington, D.C.
The Sunday New York Times reported Blair had gone so far as to make up quotes, use information from other newspapers without credit, and describe scenes as if he’d actually been there when he had not.
The Times report stated a communication failure among its senior editors, few complaints from article sources, and ingenious ways of covering his tracks let Blair perpetrate these deceits for so long.
We agree with Mr. Sulzberger Jr. that Blair’s actions give The Times “a huge black eye,” but the damage doesn”t stop there.
Yes, The Times has to restore its credibility, which is not going to be easy, but the rest of the newspaper industry is hurt by one reporter’s deception.
Frankly, we’re disgusted by Jayson Blair’s actions. It takes much effort to gain the public trust and for a paper to maintain its credibility with the community.
Earning the public’s trust and honoring it with the most accurate reporting possible is what the Tahoe World attempts to do every week.
When we make mistakes, we admit to them, and we do what we can to correct them.
The Times went a long way in doing this with the investigation it printed in its biggest edition of the week.
But as the investigation points out, there were some missed opportunities to stop the damage Blair had done before his sloppy work turned into complete fabrication.
If The Times was too busy to hear the warning bells, then its editors failed in their responsibility to listen – to themselves, to others, and the people they cover.
Let’s face it, you get into trouble when you stop minding the store.
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