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  • Serial plagiarist Jayson Blair unleashed a massive scandal that rocked the world of journalism.

    Serial plagiarist Jayson Blair unleashed a massive scandal that rocked the world of journalism.

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  • Journalist Jayson Blair recounts his process for plagiarism.

    Journalist Jayson Blair recounts his process for plagiarism.

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  • Former New York Times editor Howell Raines explains how he responded to the digital revolution.

    Former New York Times editor Howell Raines explains how he responded to the digital revolution.

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  • Jayson provides insight into how he deceived editors and fellow reporters at The New York Times.

    Jayson provides insight into how he deceived editors and fellow reporters at The New York Times.

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  • Journalists discuss the fallout and impact of the Blair scandal.

    Journalists discuss the fallout and impact of the Blair scandal.

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  • Jayson Blair is the journalist who incited the worst plagiarism scandal in modern journalism

    Jayson Blair is the journalist who incited the worst plagiarism scandal in modern journalism

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  • The Jayson Blair scandal brought the NY Times to a 'low-point in the 152 year history of the paper

    The Jayson Blair scandal brought the NY Times to a 'low-point in the 152 year history of the paper

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  • Jayson Blair, former NY Times reporter, sits down for an exclusive interview for A Fragile Trust

    Jayson Blair, former NY Times reporter, sits down for an exclusive interview for A Fragile Trust

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  • Director/Producer Samantha Grant

    Director/Producer Samantha Grant

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  • Howell Raines was the Executive Editor of The New York Times during the Blair scandal

    Howell Raines was the Executive Editor of The New York Times during the Blair scandal

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  • Jayson Blair is the journalist who incited the worst plagiarism scandal in modern journalism

    Jayson Blair is the journalist who incited the worst plagiarism scandal in modern journalism

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  • Lena Williams a veteran New York Times journalist and Newspaper Guild representative

    Lena Williams a veteran New York Times journalist and Newspaper Guild representative

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  • Macarena Hernandez journalist & educator who, like Blair, also got her start at The New York Times

    Macarena Hernandez journalist & educator who, like Blair, also got her start at The New York Times

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The Film

A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at The New York Times tells the shocking story of Jayson Blair, the most infamous serial plagiarist of our time, and how he unleashed the massive scandal that rocked The New York Times and the entire world of journalism. In 2003, Blair was caught plagiarizing the work of other reporters and supplementing his own reporting with fabricated details in dozens of different stories published in the Times. The ensuing media frenzy left a major blemish on the history of the “Old Grey Lady,” which just a year earlier won a record seven Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of 9/11. It was a spectacular fall for both Blair and the paper. The daily operations of the Times newsroom became a public spectacle as every major news outlet picked up the story and ran with it.

The fact that Blair is African American was emphasized again and again as accounts of the “Blair Affair” served up sordid details in a soap-opera style tale of deception, drug abuse, racism, mental illness, hierarchy, white guilt, and power struggles inside the hallowed halls of the Times. Through the course of the film, we follow Blair as he slowly unravels in the face of mounting pressures and distractions after his plagiarized article ultimately leads to his undoing. The Jayson Blair scandal at the most basic level is a character-driven narrative about an important chapter in the history of journalism, but also a complex story about power, ethics, representation, race, and accountability in the mainstream media.

Featuring exclusive interviews with everyone involved, including former Executive Editor Howell Raines and Blair himself, A Fragile Trust tells the whole sordid story of the scandal while exploring these deeper themes. With more and more publications moving to online-only formats and with plagiarism on the rise, this cautionary tale about the slippery slope of ethical transgressions is more relevant than ever.

The Filmmaker

  1. Samantha GrantProducer/Director