By Ross Griffith
SAN MARCOS, OCTOBER 20 – Gush Productions CEO Samantha Grant screened her new documentary, “A Fragile Trust”, for students interested in journalism and filmmaking at the Alkek Library Teaching Theater as part of Mass Communication Week at Texas State University.
The film follows the actions taken by Jayson Blair, a reporter with the New York Times who both plagiarized and fabricated numerous articles for years before being exposed. The resulting scandal lead to the resignation of two senior-level employees, including Howell Raines, the executive editor for the paper.
“A Fragile Trust” begins with a stylistic intro before interviews with NYT affiliates, outside reporters, and Jayson Blair himself collectively unravel the events leading up to the fiasco.
After the screening, Grant fielded questions from the Bobcat audience concerning the documentary and the people she interviewed. Brian Woods, an advertising major, had a question that was on everybody’s mind.
“What was Jayson’s reaction to the film?” he asked.
“He has not seen it. As far as I know, his response has been that he never wants to watch the film,” said Grant.
Although the film depicts an awkward portrait of a man caught breaking the cardinal rule of his profession, the takeaway for some students regarding Blair wasn’t entirely negative. Garret Gonzales, an electronic media major with Texas State University, found himself empathizing with Blair.
“I felt it was a fair examination. It sheds an interesting light on the story,” said Gonzales. “I could see myself relating to him.”
A point raised in the film by Blair was the existence of a mental condition on his part, specifically bipolar disorder. A student asked Grant if this was ever confirmed.
“At nearly every screening, I had had people coming up to me afterward who work in the mental health field,” said Grant. “They said, ‘This is a classic case of an undiagnosed bipolar disorder who goes on to blow up his life.'”
In keeping with the themes of Mass Communication Week, in which students explore various methods of communication, Grant has released a companion app to the film which explores ethical dilemmas within journalism.
Ross Griffith is a mass communications major at Texas State University. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org