Fair & Imbalanced: Why Journalism is Being Held Hostage…


♣ Apparently Getting It Right isn’t what sells these days…♣

In Journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right.

— Ellen Goodman, 1980 Pulitzer Prize winner for Commentary

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — In the Fall of 1980, an incredible piece of writing hit the front page of the Washington Post. The story was so incredible that it held the city and country on the edge of its seat. It was a piece called Jimmy’s World. It was written by Janet Cooke, an extremely talented Black writer who spoke multiple languages and went to some of the best schools in the world. The story was about an eight-year-old boy in Washington, D.C. who was a heroin addict, often shot full of smack by his mother’s live-in boyfriend. The boy was a product of a rape. In the aftermath of the story being published, people in DC were aghast and outraged. Dr. Alyce Gullattee, who was the director of the Institute of Substance Abuse at Howard, claimed to know the boy and his family. DC Mayor Marion Barry claimed that the city knew Jimmy’s identity (irony abounds on that one). The story was so riveting that it was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. On April 13, 1981, Cooke won the Pulitzer. On April 15, 1981, she admitted she made the entire damn thing up. From start to finish, it was all a lie, from the boy, to the family, to the name. Hell, she even lied about speaking multiple foreign languages, and attending Vassar and the Sorbonne. She gave back her Pulitzer and was forced to resign from the Post (Then-Executive Editor Ben Bradlee wrote in his book “I can’t explain now why I let her resign rather than fire her on the spot for the grossest of negligence”). She became a pariah in the industry, never to be heard from again. No paper would ever think of hiring her. That was 1981. In 2010, she’d have been given her own blog and one hour special on Fox News. Let’s Go.
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