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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Plagiarism And Fraud At The NY Times - The Blair Snitch Project

A young black journalist formerly at the NY Times has serious problems, including plagiarism and fraud with about half of his seventy-three bylined articles. The Times has a long account of behavior so odd it could never be passed off as fiction. Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan are following this, as are many other media big-feet.

So, what have we to add? Two points:

1. The Times runs a help-wanted notice as follows:

"The Times is asking readers to report any additional falsehoods in Mr. Blair's work; the e-mail address is retrace@nytimes.com."

Uhh, hello, most of the articles are archived. I'm supposed to pay for access to this? Who is helping whom? And what about this 30 days and out archiving policy, in light of this debacle? Set the archives free, and maybe a little sunlight will help prevent further mold (hey, INSPIRED metaphor!).

2. To what do we attribute the evident collapse of the editorial and supervisory processes? Mickey is using stuff like "evidence" to blame affirmative action. I say, Cherchez La Femme! Further, I Boldly Predict that no responsible journalist will stagger down this path, so here I go! IF, I say if, Jayson were an attractive young woman, wouldn't someone would be muttering snidely "Who did she sleep with to get and keep her job?" Well, let's move this story into the twenty-first century - doesn't the Times have senior editors who are women? And is the Times going to trash the reputation of one of its senior women just to salvage the reputation of its diversity hiring? Troubling!

And why do we presume Mr. Blair to be involved with a woman, anyway? What if this is the newsroom romance that dare not speak its name, hmm? Not that there is anything wrong with that! Maybe Mr. Blair is even more of a diversity hire than we realize, that he has high level protection for reasons we don't know about, and we are criticizing affirmative action targeting blacks when we should be looking elsewhere. If this were the case, would the Times let us in on the real reason for their failure to supervise Mr. Blair? No. A cover-up of epic proportions? How would we know?

Leaving us where? Some of these questions might have answers in newsroom gossip, although I would be surprised if a Responsible Journalist published these sorts of suggestions without serious evidence. So critics end up picking affirmative action as the fall guy, rather than attributing this problem to something as simple as the world's oldest professional hazard.

UPDATE: Hmm, even when I'm right, I'm wrong. Or vice versa. Responsible journalists seek, and sort of find, la femme. The Daily News, on romance and intrigue at the Times:

Meanwhile, staffers buzzed about whether Blair's relationship with a woman who is a friend of Raines' wife helped win him favored treatment.

Sources said the woman, Zuza Glowacka, has worked in The Times' photo department.

The Times reported Sunday that Blair, when confronted with a charge of plagiarizing a story about a Texas family, was able to describe their house in detail, possibly because he had seen the paper's "computerized photo archives."

Glowacka, 23, a Polish emigre who could not be reached yesterday, is said to be a friend of Raines' Polish-born wife, Krystyna Stachowiak, whom the editor married in March.

Stachowiak, a former journalist who later worked in public relations, and Glowacka's mother, journalist Ewa Zadrzynska, were among three people who set up "Poland on the Front Page, 1979-1989," a media exhibit in Warsaw last fall.

Raines said through a spokeswoman last night that he never socialized with Blair.

Originally published on May 13, 2003

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