This past week I had the pleasure to interview Robin Stone who was in Michigan to promote her late husbandâ€™s book, â€œMy Times in Black and Whiteâ€. Stoneâ€™s husband was the managing editor of the New York Times when in 2003 everything he knew fell apart when Jayson Blair, a Times writer, was caught plagiarizing and fabricating news stories. In the subsequentÂ fallout Boyd resigned under pressure along with Times executive editor Howell Raines.
Boyd, in his tenure at the Times, had worked on 10 Pulitzers, but according to Stone none of this mattered and someone had to take the fall. Boyd was working on his book and according to Stone thinking about getting back in the business when he died of lung cancer. She was left to make sure the book and Boydâ€™s memoir of hisÂ life in journalism made it into print.
Boyd writes candidlyÂ about how journalism consumed his life after he began as a copy boy for the St. Louis Dispatch some 40 years ago. She said there was a mixed blessing in his dismissal: he was able to spend more time with his family, especially his son Zachary, before his death in 2006 at age 56.
His book isÂ an insiderâ€™s look into a profession that has struggled withÂ racial diversity which Boyd championedÂ for himself and others.He writes about how in his lifetime he was theÂ â€firstâ€ and was compared to baseball great Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier in baseball.
Itâ€™s easy to see how Blair and Boyd were tied together; they were both black and they shared smoking so they were often seen together. But Boyd and Stone make itÂ clear that he (Boyd) was not friends or a mentor for Blair.
Stone saidÂ it was unfortunate that this assumption was made. She attributes this to lazyÂ journalism. As a result of the dismissals and the â€œBlairÂ Affairâ€ the New York Times instituted the public editor to serve as a watchdog for plagiarism.Â
Just this past month, history repeated itself when a Times staffer resigned following pretty conclusive evidence that he had plagiarized numerous times. But this time out only the serial plagiarizer had the door shown to him. Stoneâ€™s appearance at MSU was part of the School of Journalismâ€™s Centennial Celebration. To read a complete interview with Stone in the Lansing City Pulse click here.