Winston-Salem State Students Question Blair’s Appearance
Some Winston-Salem State University students are questioning the school’s decision to bring disgraced journalist Jayson Blair to campus to speak.
Ebonee Russell, a senior and a reporter for The News Argus, the historically Black university’s newspaper, said she was bothered that WSSU is one of the few schools that invited Blair to campus.
“What kind of role model is he? What kind of example is he setting for the students here?” Russell asked. “If I had a choice, he wouldn’t be my first choice.”
Blair resigned from The New York Times last year after dozens of fabrications and examples of plagiarism were discovered in his stories over an eight-month period.
The scandal eventually led to the resignations of Howell Raines, the newspaper’s executive editor, and Gerald Boyd, the managing editor.
Blair’s Web site lists only one other college appearance — in October he is to speak at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Md.
Blair began a series of appearances in the winter after publishing a memoir, Burning Down My Masters’ House: My Life at The New York Times.
The book recounts Blair’s rise and fall at the Times. Most critics panned it, with the Los Angeles Times labeling it “self-pitying and unreliable.”
Brian Blount, the chairman of the school’s mass communications department, booked Blair’s appearance and said he believes the visit is an opportunity for students to learn important skills.
“As a reporter, if you have preconceived ideas or concepts or you believe something may have occurred, you still have to go in there with an open mind and become a critical thinker,” he said.
Blount said Blair has agreed to donate $1,000 of his fee to a mental-health organization.
Senior Janell Lewis, editor-in-chief of The News Argus, said she has mixed feelings about Blair.
“He’s made it worse for up-and-coming Black journalists,” she said. “There’s already a higher standard set for us in the workplace.”
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com