World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Janet Cooke

Janet Cooke
Born Janet Leslie Cooke
(1954-07-23) July 23, 1954
Toledo, Ohio, U.S.
Education University of Toledo, B.A.
Occupation ex-journalist
Notable credit(s) The Washington Post

Janet Leslie Cooke (born July 23, 1954) is a former American journalist. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1981 for an article written for The Washington Post, but the story was later discovered to have been fabricated.


  • Fabricated story scandal 1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4
  • External links 5

Fabricated story scandal

In 1980, Cooke joined the "Weeklies" section staff of the Washington Post under editor Vivian Aplin-Brownlee. Cooke falsely claimed she had a degree from Vassar College and a master's degree from the University of Toledo and she claimed that she had received a journalism award while at the Toledo Blade. While Cooke had attended Vassar for a year, she had only received a bachelor's degree from Toledo.

In a September 28, 1980, article in the Post, titled "Jimmy's World",[1] Cooke wrote a profile of the life of an 8-year-old

External links

  • McGrath, E. 1981. "A Fraud in the Pulitzers". TIME (Canadian edition), April 27, 1981. Vol. 117, No. 17.
  • Szasz, Thomas The Protocols of the Learned Experts on Heroin, Libertarian Review, July 1981
  • Materials assembled for Saint Michael's College classroom discussion of the "Jimmy's World" case. David T. Z. Mindich, Professor of Media studies, journalism & digital arts. Saint Michaels College, Colchester VT.

Further reading

  1. ^ Green, Bill (April 16, 1981). "The Players: It Wasn't a Game". The Washington Post. 
    (In materials assembled for Saint Michael's College classroom discussion.)
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Cooke, Janet (September 28, 1980). "Jimmy's World". The Washington Post: A12. 
    Materials evidently assembled for University of North Carolina at Pembroke classroom use.
  4. ^ a b "Feature Writing". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  5. ^ Maraniss, David A. (April 16, 1981). "Post Reporter's Pulitzer Prize Is Withdrawn; Pulitzer Board Withdraws Post Reporter's Prize". The Washington Post. 
    (In materials assembled for Saint Michael's College classroom discussion.)
  6. ^ Sager, Mike. Scary Monsters and Super Freaks: Stories of Sex, Drugs, Rock 'N' Roll and Murder. Thunder's Mouth Press, 2004. ISBN 1-56025-563-3
  7. ^ Dutka, Elaine (May 28, 1996). "Janet Cooke's Life: The Picture-Perfect Tale : The Saga of the Pulitzer Prize Hoaxer Proves to Be a Big Lure to Hollywood--and the Ex-Reporter Resurfaces to Tell Her Story". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-01-18. 
  8. ^ Prince, Richard (October 1, 2010). "Janet Cooke's Hoax Still Resonates After 30 Years". The Root. Retrieved 2013-01-18. 


See also

In 1996, Cooke gave an interview about the "Jimmy's World" episode to GQ reporter Mike Sager, her former boyfriend and Washington Post colleague.[6] Cooke and Sager sold the film rights to the story to Tri-Star Pictures for $1.6 million, but the project never moved past the script stage.[7][8]

L.A.-based folk singer Phranc wrote and recorded a song entitled "Liar Liar" about Janet Cooke and the fabricated article in question. The song appeared on her 1985 album Folksinger.

Cooke resigned and returned the Prize. Regarding this, Gabriel García Márquez said that "it was unfair that she won the Pulitzer prize, but also unfair that she didn't win the Nobel Prize in Literature". (The 1981 Pulitzer was re-awarded to Teresa Carpenter of The Village Voice.)[4] She appeared on the Phil Donahue show in January 1982 and said that the high-pressure environment of the Post had corrupted her judgment. She said that her sources had hinted to her about the existence of a boy such as Jimmy, but, unable to find him, she eventually created a story about him in order to satisfy her editors.

I believed it, we published it. Official questions had been raised, but we stood by the story and her. Internal questions had been raised, but none about her other work. The reports were about the story not sounding right, being based on anonymous sources, and primarily about purported lies [about] her personal life—[told by three reporters], two she had dated and one who felt in close competition with her. I think that the decision to nominate the story for a Pulitzer is of minimal consequence. I also think that it won is of little consequence. It is a brilliant story—fake and fraud that it is. It would be absurd for me or any other editor to review the authenticity or accuracy of stories that are nominated for prizes.[5]

Two days after the prize had been awarded, Post publisher Donald E. Graham held a press conference and admitted that the story was fraudulent. The editorial in the next day's paper offered a public apology. Assistant managing editor Woodward said at the time:

When the editors of the Toledo Blade, where Cooke had previously worked, read her biographical notes, they noticed discrepancies. Further investigation revealed that Cooke's academic credentials were inflated. Pressured by the editors of the Post, Cooke confessed her guilt.

Although some within the Post doubted the story's veracity, the Post defended it and assistant managing editor Bob Woodward submitted the story for the Pulitzer Prize. Cooke was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing on April 13, 1981.[3][4]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.