12 November update: Jayson Blair has been very quiet since the last update two months ago. In fact, he has barely raised his head above the parapet. Nevertheless the Blair bandwagon continues apace. It really is stunning how many obscure connections you can make to Blair - yes it's cheap, easy journalistic shorthand but if you're on deadline and your copy is getting a bit dull, why not throw in a Jayson Blair reference for fun?
Although the man himself has gone to ground, the repercussions of his lying are still being felt. At the end of October, the New York Times finally chose an Ombudsman to review the paper's stories in a bid to rebuild its reputation. Daniel Okrent is a former Life editor and will review reader complaints and write the odd column in the Times during his 18-month term, starting 1 December. The Times has also tried to renew itself with a redesign.
There's been a fair bit about Stephen Glass following the release of the film detailing his similar creative approach to journalism at the New Republic. Even though Jayson was dropped from writing a review of the film, it seems that no reviewer has been able to stop themselves drawing analogies between the two. At the same time, there has been alot of coverage on John Maas' TV movie about Blair after Showtime signed up to the project.
Maas' job has been made slightly harder by the incooperation of the journalism dean at Blair's old journalism college however. Tom Kunkel of the University of Maryland told the ever-digging Washington Post that he refused to talk to Maas about Blair: "He called me several times and as a courtesy I called him back and said, 'I have no intention to talk about Jayson Blair to you or anyone else.' I think it's deplorable that there is a movie about this that will just add further notoriety to this terrible situation... I feel no obligation to talk to a Hollywood producer about a situation that I find repugnant. I understand why he's upset, but I don't care." Fair enough.
Meanwhile it seems that ex-managing editor Gerald Boyd (the black one who claimed race had nothing to do with the whole Blair saga) may be given a professorship at New York University. It's not a bad idea. Boyd has made noises about wanting to return to journalism, and that's very possible, but it seems unlikely he'd slot back in at his old position. Becoming a journalism academic is a respectable and occasionally powerful position. It could be a wise move and he'd have a good chance to turn around his shame into a positive attribute - something very unlikely in the newspaper world.
Apart from that, the publisher of Jayson's forthcoming book has strengthened its reputation for salacious gossip, reportedly signing up "Thug to the stars" Anthony Pellicano. Apparently, Mr Pellicano is hired for his unorthodox tactics by lawyers of big Hollywood names including Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Sylvester Stallone. He has also, apparently, taped conversations with famous clients. Oh, and he'll be in jail later this month for possession of hand grenades and other explosives.
Should we buy any of this? My feeling is that there may be one revelation, three interesting tid-bits of information and then alot of unsubstantiated tales of derring-do. Even if he had something genuinely fascinating, Hollywood lawyers would tear him to pieces before they allowed it to be published. So another hype-book, high in PR, low in content, from New Millennium Press.
As for Jayson's lack of appearances - presumably he's busy writing his book. But he should be finished by December, so expect some Xmas tales or possibly New Year resolution-type appearances from everyone's favourite plagiarist.
1 Jun 2004: A belated update on the ongoing NYT woes