Update: Jayson Blair Promises Proof of Donation, Explains Media Policy

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Jayson Blair, shown here speaking to Larry King on CNN. (Screen capture credit: Fishbowl NY, Jul 21, 2006)

We promised an update on disgraced journalist Jayson Blair’s alleged donation to the National Institute of Mental Health and contradictory reports about his recent speaking engagements. Here it is:

Blair emailed iMediaEthics with answers to our questions about reports suggesting the former reporter intended to stop lecturing publicly about his experience plagiarizing and fabricating stories at the New York Times, and to donate his fee of $3,000 for speaking at Washington and Lee University in Virginia this November.

Blair says he will have a letter of thanks proving his donation to the NIMH after the second quarter of 2010, and that if we ask for it, he will be able to provide it then.

He also said that media reports confused his position on speaking in public. At the Washington and Lee lecture, Blair said “My intention, and my hope, is that this will be my last public comment on journalism. I hope to reserve future conversations about my career in journalism to private audiences of students and for individuals who might be able to benefit from my experience, learn from my mistakes and be inspired by my recovery.”

Blair explained in an email that this statement accurately reflects his intention. Since the W&L lecture, in addition to his talk at the University at Albany, he says he has spoken privately to students at Patrick Henry College and Everett Lansing High School.

The Albany lecture was not publicized by the university, and Blair says he didn’t intend to invite reporters.  “Once one found out about it through, presumably, a student, I was willing to speak with them,” he wrote to iMediaEthics.

Blair says the Patrick Henry College and Everett Lansing High School talks were invitation only. “If members of the media had found out about them and wanted talk, I would have,” he wrote. “I told the students at each location about my desire for privacy but also did not prevent them from using whatever I said in any way they saw fit.”

The question remains, whether Blair’s story itself is an appropriate teaching tool for young journalists. iMediaEthics has discussed before the issue of Blair’s credibility, and whether “lessons” can be learned from the testimony of a known liar.

We intend to hold Blair to standards of his past behavior and follow up with him later this year on his alleged donation to the NIMH. We will post any news as an update.

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Update: Jayson Blair Promises Proof of Donation, Explains Media Policy

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