WASHINGTON – The New York Times, once the most respected newspaper in the nation, if not the world, has no formal policy requiring its reporters to have a college degree, a spokeswoman says, nor does it prod reporters to finish degrees they’ve started.
“There is no policy on college degrees,” said Catherine J. Mathis, vice president of corporate communications for the New York Times Co.
The Jayson Blair case has raised the issue of education standards and affirmative action, as well as veracity, at the venerable Times. The disgraced reporter, who is black and the poster boy of the Times “diversity” program, led his editors there to believe he had graduated from the University of Maryland, when he had not.
“Everyone assumed he had graduated,” the Times wrote in its lengthy Sunday article examining Blair’s fraudulent reporting.
Jayson Blair (New York Times photo)
However, contrary to recent reports in USA Today and other media, Blair did not lie about his education on his resume, Mathis says, which he furnished when he applied for an internship in the summer of 1998 and was clearly still a student.
She declined to comment on whether the rest of Blair’s resume was truthful and would not provide WorldNetDaily a copy of it.
A subsequent “biography” prepared after he was hired full-time “states that he attended the University of Maryland,” Mathis told WorldNetDaily. “It does not say he graduated, nor does it indicate a degree.”
Mathis suggested editors assumed Blair finished college after his summer internship, because “he asked to postpone coming to the Times because he wanted to go back to Maryland and finish his degree.”
He was scheduled to graduate in December 1998. He returned to the Times newsroom in June 1999. The Times article said he still has “more than a year of course work to complete.”
His editors, upon learning of his shortfall, did not make his continued employment contingent on finishing his course work.
Sniper book proposal
Blair penned a book proposal on the Beltway sniper case, which he also covered ignominiously. It turns out he completely fabricated stories that were picked up unblinkingly at the time by other elite national media.
What’s the status of his book?
“We do not believe he had a book contract,” Mathis said.
In that area, the Times does have a policy, and she says Blair appears to have violated it.
“He was told that under our code of conduct, staff members involved in covering a running story may not negotiate over books, articles, films, programs or media projects of any sort based on that coverage until that news has played out,” Mathis told WorldNetDaily.