Accuracy in Media

Jayson Blair, the former New York Times reporter who was caught fabricating his stories has received far more attention from the media than recently fired USA Today foreign correspondent Jack Kelley. Eric Wemple of the Washington City Paper conducted a Factiva search and found Blair earned 1,428 mentions in U.S. newspapers following the first two weeks after the fraud was reported by the Times. In contrast Kelley had 103 mentions in a similar two week period after the story of his fraud was reported.

Kelley’s stories attracted a lot of attention as he reported about events all over the world, yet largely because USA Today is not widely read in Washington and has never been considered a serious newspaper, his sins are largely ignored. I’m sure Kelley is disappointed in the lack of attention he has received. After all Stephen Glass of the New Republic also fabricated stories and his story was turned into a movie Shattered Glass. Kelley can only hope he will get such a sweet deal.

As a result of the Blair scandal the Times now employs an ombudsman whose role is to make sure there will not be another Blair like episode. The Washington Post has employed one for years though this doesn’t ensure unbiased stories and didn’t prevent the Janet Cooke scandal.

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