Setting the Agenda: The New York Times’ Jayson Blair Report and its Impact on American Media

By Seth Mnookin

A paper by Seth Mnookin, spring 2004 fellow, examines the making and results of The New York Times’ Jayson Blair Report. The report helped demonstrate The New York Times’ power to shape the national news agenda, argues Mnookin, and in doing so, helped codify the way in which newspapers were expected to respond to accusations of serious fraud among their own staffs. A team of five reporters, three editors, and a handful of researchers dug into Jayson Blair’s career with an intensity and scrutiny usually reserved for corrupt public officials. Their report would transform the Jayson Blair story into a national scandal, one that would likely affect the culture of the paper, and, very possibly, other newspapers, for years to come. This paper resulted in the book Hard News: The Scandals at The New York Times and Their Meaning for American Media.

Download the paper (PDF).