All right, sit yourselves down for this one and if you're already sitting down, brace yourselves. I want to commend The New York Times.
Not for the journalistic fraud perpetrated by one of its once star reporters, Jayson Blair, but how the newspaper confessed to it for all the world to see.
In a stunning front page story in Sunday's paper, a story that went on to fill two whole pages, The Times scrupulously detailed how it screwed up:
How it allowed Blair to continue concocting quotes and stories that never happened.
How editors were concerned Blair was a loose cannon.
How one immediate boss even penned a memo to suggest Blair shouldn't even be writing for The Times.
How those supposedly quoted by Blair on anything from the D.C. sniper story, to hometown reflections from the Iraq war, were at the least distorted and at worst, completely fabricated.
In a massive mea culpa, the world's paper of record revealed how much it botched it. A team of times reporters detailing, often numbingly, how one of their own wandered from the herd and the simplest of journalistic standards, namely trust.
I don't excuse Blair's actions. But I commend The Times for bringing them to light. The New York Times takes its 152-year history seriously and it's offended. So it should be. But it proved a model for how you confess when you screw up.
We all make mistakes, of course, and The Times just had a doozie. But not all of us are prone to drag ourselves through the mud and recreate them. The Times did.
You can't change what happened. But when you're big about something, you can go a long way toward making sure it doesn't happen again.
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