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Famous Cases of Journalistic Fraud: A Reading List

Michael Hobbes | Longreads | January 22, 2014 | words

This reading list includes stories about Janet Cooke, who made up a story about an eight-year-old heroin addict, Jayson Blair, who fabricated stories at The New York Times, Stephen Glass, and more.

Posted inReading List

Famous Cases of Journalistic Fraud: A Reading List

Washington Post Investigation of Janet Cooke’s Fabrications

Bill Green | Washington Post Ombudsman | April 19, 1981

In 1980, Janet Cooke made up a story about an 8-year-old heroin addict, won the Pulitzer Prize for it, then, two days later, gave it back. Here’s the internal investigation of how the Post leaned on her to get her to admit she faked it.

[Cooke’s] new resume claimed that she spoke or read French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. Her original resume claimed only French and Spanish. The new form claimed she had won six awards from the Ohio Newspaper Women’s Association and another from the Ohio AP. […]

Janet was crying harder, and Bradlee began to check off her language proficiency. “Say two words to me in Portuguese,” he said. She said she couldn’t.

“Do you have any Italian?” Bradlee asked.

Cooke said no.

Bradlee, fluent in French, asked her questions in the language. Her answers were stumbling.

(The formatting is not that great, but if you save it in Instapaper and read it there, it’s easier to follow. Here’s a non-single-page link).

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