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Janet Cooke, a journalist for The Washington Post,won a 1981 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing for "Jimmy's World," an article about an eight-year-old heroin addict living in urban Washington, DC.

Then-Mayor Marion Barry ordered city officials to organize a search to locate the boy, but were unable to find him. Barry, however, claimed the city had rescued "Jimmy" and that he was currently in treatment. Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward believed the report was truthful and nominated Cooke's article for a Pulitzer.

After Cooke won, several reporters at the Post raised questions about her anonymous sources and compared apparent lies she'd told about her personal life. After a brief investigation, the newspaper determined the story had been fabricated and issued a public apology for publishing it.

Two days later, Cooke returned the Prize and resigned from The Washington Post, citing the high pressure environment as her reason for submitting a fictitious piece.

The Pulitzer Prize Board subsequently gave the award for Feature Writing to Teresa Carpenter of The Village Voice, in New York City.

The story was later released as a movie, The Hoax, starring Richard Gere.

To read the article, see Related Links, below.

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Q: What Washington Post reporter wrote a fake news story and won a Pulitzer Prize for it?
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