Jayson Blair returns as a life coach

Disgraced reporter says he draws on his own coping mechanisms to help clients

His name is a byword for plagiarism and fakery and his career flame-out took the editor of The New York Times down with him, but Jayson Blair says you can trust him with your life.

The hotshot reporter was unmasked in 2003 as a serial fantasist, whose colourful articles with datelines from across the US were in fact routinely written in his Brooklyn apartment.

Today he has a startling new job: as a life coach, telling substance abusers and mental health patients how to get back on their feet. In what might be an understatement, his website says he has "struggled with career issues and many of the other areas where I coach".

"It's unique," he says. "The way I practise, for better or worse, I am able to draw on coping mechanisms of my own. I don't just understand things out of a textbook. When somebody comes in because they are struggling with their job, I can definitely relate to them. Particularly now, because of the recession, a lot of people are looking at a career change and a new direction and they are going through what I went through. Of course, without the scandal."

The revelations of Mr Blair's plagiarism prompted an awful public hand-wringing exercise at The New York Times, numerous long apologies in the paper, and the resignation of its two most senior editors. The affair made the reporter notorious, and a 2004 book, Burning Down My Master's House, about the drink and drug addictions and the mental illness that underlay his actions was a must-read, containing salacious newsroom gossip and embarrassing exposés of other shoddy practices at the Times. But he disappeared from view, returning to his native Maryland to recover and set up what became a network of support groups for bipolar disorder sufferers and their families.

Now 33, he has been working quietly for two years as a certified life coach, advising clients of the respected Ashburn Psychological Services, a Virginia mental health clinic, on everything from overcoming shyness to planning a career.

"I was not thinking of a career," he says of his time running the support groups – first set up at his mother's suggestion. "But as time went on we got more involved with community service and in people's lives, including working with their doctors, so the mental health community got to know me."

Even so, his reputation preceeds him. "When I first came to Ashburn there was plenty of scepticism among the team of psychologists, who said I can't believe we have hired a life coach and I can't believe that it's Jayson Blair. But these days they are as likely to come into my room, slide on my couch, pick up my teddy bear, put a blanket over them and start telling me their problems."

His bosses describe him as a success story, someone who came back from personal and professional disaster. He says no client has refused to work with him because of his past. But his job is laced with ironies – not least that the one-time employee from hell now sometimes descends on companies to tell them how to deal with struggling staff.

"In some cases where my clients are falling apart on the job, I will go with them to their employer, saying I am their life coach and, by the way, I'm Jayson Blair. That's always an interesting conversation. Usually it ends in a good chuckle."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London