The journalistic world is still abuzz over the Jayson Blair ethics scandal that has rocked the New York Times. But we at Metro Times must admit that we weren’t completely shocked that the shooting-star reporter has confessed to frequently fabricating material or blatantly plagiarizing other reporters’ work, and then lying to his editors to cover his tracks.
Why not? We have the (dis)honor of counting ourselves among the ranks of the ripped-off.
A May 2002 New York Times article by Blair apparently used quotes and material lifted from Metro Times staff writer Sarah Klein’s cover story on Detroit comic book artist Kenjji published a month earlier (“Comic belief,” Metro Times, April 17-23, 2002).
Klein stumbled across the Times story after it came out. Thinking it oddly coincidental, she e-mailed both Blair and the Times.
She never received a response, and quite frankly, chalked it up to coincidence. After all, the New York Times — plagiarizing?
When Blair’s misdeeds blew up, Kenjji and his manager/girlfriend, Kito Jumanne, contacted Klein to state for the record that Kenjji never once spoke with Blair.
Klein e-mailed the Times (again) and this time received a response from reporter David Barstow, who is investigating Blair’s trail of mistruths. Barstow confirmed that the Kenjji piece appears to be a clear-cut case of plagiarism. Barstow, who humbly apologized numerous times on behalf of journalism’s blushing Gray Lady, said the paper has not yet decided what will become of Blair’s stories archived on the Times’ Web site.
Klein is patiently awaiting the arrival of a special badge that reads, “I was plagiarized by Jayson Blair.”Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org