Friday, August 2, 2013

The hoax that shook the Washington Post to its foundations

In journalism class this week at Commits we watched that venerable classic, All the President's Men, based on the book of the same name by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two Washington Post reporters who exposed the Watergate scandal. Their dogged investigation ultimately brought down the most powerful man on the planet.

A day later, the students watched Frost-Nixon.

Afterwards, Commitscion ASWATHY MURALI (Class of 2015), who has been checking out Washington Post-related articles, made the valuable suggestion that there should be something on the Reading Room blog about the hoax that shook the Washington Post to its foundations: "Jimmy's World", the story by Janet Cooke that won her a Pulitzer Prize but was later proved to be a fabrication. You can get all the details on "Story Lab", a very interesting blog published by the newspaper: Story pick: Janet Cooke and "Jimmy's World".

(What is Story Lab?  According to the "About" page, this is "where readers and reporters will come together to create and shape stories. Washington Post writers will talk about some of the hard choices involved in journalism". Read the description in its entirety here.)
  • PS: Aswathy Murali tells me "A Boy of Unusual Vision", which won Baltimore Sun reporter Alice Steinbach a Pulitzer Prize in 1985, is her favourite feature. I have to say I am gratified that our students are taking an interest not only in happenings around them (reading the daily newspaper has become a habit now) but also in events that have shaped our understanding of the world around us.
UPDATE (August 6, 2013): The Washington Post has just been sold to Amazon founder Jeff P. Bezos for $250 million. I first read the news on The New York Times website this morning:

The Washington Post, the newspaper whose reporting helped topple a president and inspired a generation of journalists, is being sold for $250 million to the founder of, Jeffrey P. Bezos, in a deal that has shocked the industry.

Read the full news report here. And read this opinion piece, too: "The end of the Graham era".

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