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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent