The New York Times

What was the accusation?

On May 1, 2003, New York Times reporter Jayson Blair resigned from the newspaper upon discovery that he had committed plagiarism in an April 26th Times article. Further investigation of Mr. Blair’s work by the Times revealed a shocking pattern of journalistic deceit and distortion infecting some 36 of Mr. Blair’s 73 articles dating back to October 2002. A detailed “correction of the record” appeared in the May 11th issue of the Times, along with an “editors’ note” apologizing for the newspaper’s failure to “detect the journalistic deceptions sooner” as well as for harm done to readers, story subjects, plagiarized parties, and other journalists.

Key Apologia Strategies:

Corrective Action




“Ten days ago, Jayson Blair resigned as a reporter for The New York Times after the discovery that he had plagiarized parts of an article on April 26 about the Texas family of a soldier missing in Iraq. An article on Page 1 today recounts a chain of falsifications and plagiarism that unraveled when The Times began an inquiry into that Texas article. At least 36 more articles written by Mr. Blair since October reflected plagiarism, misstatements, misrepresentation of the reporter’s whereabouts or a combination of those. An accounting of the flaws will be found on the right side of this page, as the first headline under ‘Related.’

“Today’s article and the accounting result from a week long investigation by five Times reporters and a team of researchers. The newspaper organized it in the belief that the appropriate corrective for flawed journalism is better journalism “” accurate journalism.

“The reporters have telephoned news sources cited by Mr. Blair and have interviewed other journalists who worked with him. Executives have read them summaries of telephone records and expense documents. To examine the newsroom processes that went awry, they have had unrestricted access to other Times staff members, including top editors, involved with Mr. Blair’s copy and the management of his career. Within the limits of laws and ethical codes governing health and employment records, Times managers have described documents for the reporting team.

“The reporters’ examination has centered on the last seven months, a period in which Mr. Blair increasingly received assignments distant from the newsroom, which allowed him wider independence. His earlier work, done under closer supervision, will be spot-checked. If another major examination appears warranted, it will be carried out. Readers and news sources who know of defects in additional articles should send e-mail to The Times: retrace@

“In online databases that include copy from The Times, cautionary notices will be attached to the faulty articles in coming days.

“The Times regrets that it did not detect the journalistic deceptions sooner. A separate internal inquiry, by the management, will examine the newsroom’s processes for training, assignment and accountability.

“For all of the falsifications and plagiarism, The Times apologizes to its readers in the first instance, and to those who have figured in improper coverage. It apologizes, too, to those whose work was purloined and to all conscientious journalists whose professional trust has been betrayed by this episode.”


Barry, D., Barstow, D., Glater, J.D., Liptak, A., & Steinberg, J. (2003, May 11). Correcting the record; Times reporter who resigned leaves long trail of deception. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Editor’s note. (2003, May 11). The New York Times. Retrieved from