A Fragile Trust - Special Offer
Plagiarism, Power, and Jayson Blair at the New York Times
Tells the shocking story of New York Times reporter Jayson Blair, the most infamous plagiarist of our time.
Directed by Samantha Grant
Produced by Samantha Grant, Brittney Shepherd
Cinematographers: Singeli Agnew, Samantha Grant
Editors: Richard Levien, Samantha Grant
Associate Producer/Assistant Editor: Jessica Jones
Composer: Justin Melland
Motion Graphics: Mike Nicholson
Illustrated Animations: Stuart Langfield
Note: There are two versions of this program on the same DVD: 75-minutes and 57-minutes.
"Great journalism and superb documentary film making." Carole Di Tosti, BlogCritics
A FRAGILE TRUST tells the shocking story of Jayson Blair, the most infamous serial plagiarist of our time, and how he unleashed the massive scandal that rocked the New York Times and the entire world of journalism. In 2003 Blair was caught plagiarizing and supplementing his own reporting with fabricated details in dozens of stories published in the Times. The daily operations of the Times newsroom became a public spectacle as every major news outlet picked up the story and ran with it. The fact that Blair is African-American was emphasized again and again as accounts of the 'Blair Affair' served up sordid details in a soap-opera style tale of deception, drug abuse, racism, mental illness, hierarchy, white guilt, and power struggles inside the hallowed halls of the New York Times.
Through the course of the film, we follow Blair as he slowly unravels in the face of mounting pressures and distractions. Starting with his 'reporting' of the plagiarized article that ultimately lead to his undoing, we trace the rise and fall of this fascinating young reporter as he clings to his career at the Times even as he is losing his mind.
Featuring exclusive interviews with everyone involved, including former Executive Editor Howell Raines and Blair himself, A FRAGILE TRUST is the first film to tell the whole sordid story of the scandal while exploring deeper themes of power, ethics, and responsibility in the mainstream media.
Grade Level: 9 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2014
Copyright Date: 2013
DVD ISBN: 1-94154-515-7
"Well-balanced...meticulous. Portrait of disgraced reporter Jayson Blair raises tough questions about journalistic ethics and personal responsibility in the digital era."
Ronnie Scheib, Variety
"A remarkable film for its probing, its wealth of detail and testimony - remarkable above all, perhaps, in the clinical picture of its subject, one devoid of any efforts to assign mitigating factors to his disastrous career, whether of race or class."
Dorothy Rabinowitz, Wall Street Journal
"The film is a stellar cautionary tale and morality play that will hopefully inspire future generations of journalists, bloggers and opinion leaders to be accountable for their editorial discretion and how they will distribute information to their audiences."
Christopher A. Daniel, TheBurtonWire.com
"It should be required viewing for all journalism students, and interesting discussion fodder for pros."
David Cuillier, Society of Professional Journalists Blog
"As a subject that destroyed reputations, careers and tarnished the endeavours of working journalists worldwide, journalist, educator and filmmaker Samantha Grant's film A Fragile Trust explores the Jayson Blair story with accuracy and intent, producing a Rashomon style documentary that explores media ethics, issues of race, power and the failure of institutional journalism through a retrospective of the high pressure media world of post - 9/11 New York."
Chris Binding, Pictureshow Magazine
"One of the Gray Lady's most embarrassing moments comes to complex life in this tough-minded analysis that explores issues of race, affirmative action and institutional inertia."
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"Director Samantha Grant chronicles an ignominious but fascinating chapter in modern journalism in this solid doc."
Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
"A clear and thorough story about the most damaging plagiarism scandal in the history of America's flagship newspaper, and about the ambiguous and troubled individual who sparked it."
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com
"A Fragile Trust lays it all out...with clarity, so that you understand what happened and how it happened."
Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com
"Though the Blair scandal was exhaustively covered as it unfolded, the new documentary A Fragile Trust...argues it has been seriously misunderstood."
Simon Houpt, (Toronto) Globe and Mail
"Grant paints a fascinating portrait of a talented but disturbed, insecure (and possibly sociopathic) young man who spun a web of lies so thick his falsehoods soon became indistinguishable from his reality."
Zeba Blay, IndieWire
"At a time when newspapers are struggling and resources are stretched, A Fragile Trust is a compelling reminder of the importance of paying attention to the details, no matter how small or trivial."
Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald
"First-Rate...A thorough and balanced examination."
Steve Leftridge, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Great journalism and superb documentary film making."
Carole Di Tosti, BlogCritics
"An excellent field guide for dissecting the moment when telling a mistruth seemed like a better idea than being honest."
"This thorough account of a terrible time in journalism serves as a reminder to everyone in the media to never put expediency ahead of professionalism."
Peter Howell, The Toronto Star
2 versions: the original 75-minute version and a 57-minute version, plus scene selection for both versions, and SDH captions.
The film's website
DECISIONS ON DEADLINE Check out this free, fun, and fast paced browser & tablet based journalism ethics game specifically created as an interactive companion project to "A Fragile Trust"
Awards and Festivals
Best Documentary Award, Macon Film Festival
Alliance of Women Film Journalists EDA Award, Salem Film Fest
Nominated for Special Jury Award & EDA Award, Sheffield Doc/Fest
Nominated for Best Documentary, Hawaii International Film Festival
Nominated for Metropolis Award, DOC NYC
Nominated for Best Documentary, Big Sky Documnetary Film Festival
Nominated for Best Documentary, Fargo Film Festival
Selected for HotDocs DocSoup screening series
Nominated for Best Documentary, Cleveland International Film Festival
Hamptons International Film Festival
St. Louis International Film Festival
Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival
Hollywood Film Festival
Denver Starz Film Festival
East Lansing Film Festival
Sebastopol Film Festival
Salem Film Festival
Atlanta Film Festival
Fargo Film Festival
Thessalonikki Int'l Doc Film Festival
Portland Oregon Women's Film Festival
Garden State Film Festival
River Run International Film Festival
Kansas City Film Festival
Sarasota Film Festival
DOXA International Film Festival
Seattle True Independent Film Festival
Documentary Edge Film Festival
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