Documentary about The New York Times Plagiarism Scandal of 2003 Will Be Shown Feb. 24

Feb. 20, 2015
Macarena HernandezMacarena Hernandez, Fred Hartman Distinguished Professor of Journalism (Courtesy photo)

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Former reporter Macarena Hernández, whose work was plagiarized, will speak about her experience

WACO, Texas (Feb. 20, 2015) — The documentary “A Fragile Trust” tells the story of the biggest plagiarism scandal in the history of The New York Times, and Macarena Hernández, now the Fred Hartman Distinguished Professor of Journalism at Baylor University, is the reporter whose work was plagiarized.

The documentary will be screened at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, in Marrs McLean Science Building, Room 101, at 1214 S. Fourth St. at Baylor. A question-and-answer session with Hernández and Sara Stone, Ph.D., chair of the department of journalism, public relations and new media in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, will follow.

As the Rio Grande Valley bureau chief of the San Antonio Express-News, Hernández wrote an article about a soldier missing in Iraq. Jayson Blair, a reporter with The New York Times, plagiarized that article, and once that revelation became public, the magnitude of his long history of plagiarism became a national news story. Hernández and Blair had worked together years before when both interned at The New York Times.

At the time, the publisher of The New York Times called the scandal “a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper” and “a huge black eye.”

The screening will be “a great opportunity to talk about ethics in journalism and also to address academic integrity for all students on our campus,” Stone said.

Hernández said that from her viewpoint as a teacher, “this scandal was a teachable moment. I saw — from the outside — how a story becomes news. As a journalist, I also was able to see firsthand how easy it is for media professionals to get it wrong. It helped me better understand the fragile trust between the reader and the reporter and the public’s deep distrust of the media.”

For more information about the documentary, visit


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 24 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines.

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