The Spin-Out From The UVA “Rape” Story

Rolling Stone Retracts, Apologizes For UVA Story.

NBC Nightly News (4/5, story 7, 1:40, Guthrie) reported that a Columbia Journalism review of Rolling Stone’s University of Virginia “gang rape” article found significant problems with it. NBC (Jackson) adds that the magazine has “officially retracted the piece” and is apologizing after the independent review “calls the fallout from a rape on campus ‘a journalistic failure that was avoidable.’”

Rolling Stone (4/6) runs an article chronicling how the article came to be written, how doubts about the veracity of the narrative began to emerge, and how other media outlets began raising questions and refuting elements of the story, leading to its ultimate retraction. The piece describes the journalistic lapses found by the Columbia review, and examines how the story reflects on journalism in general, and on the issue of campus sexual assault.

The New York Times (4/6, Somaiya, Subscription Publication) reports that Rolling Stone has “retracted” the article “after the release of a report on Sundaythat concluded the widely discredited piece was the result of failures at every stage of the process.” The Columbia review concluded that Rolling Stone “failed to engage in ‘basic, even routine journalistic practice’ to verify details of the ordeal that the magazine’s source, identified only as Jackie, described to the article’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely.” The Columbia review found that Rolling Stone “could have avoided trouble with the article if certain basic ‘reporting pathways’ had been followed.” The Times notes that when the article was published in November, it sparked outrage and debate at UVA and across the country.

USA Today (4/5, Yu) reports that the Columbia review found that Rolling Stone’s lapses “allowed publication of a searing, now thoroughly discredited story,” and notes that Rolling Stone says it “will implement recommendations about journalistic practices that are listed in the report.” USA Today adds that the report found lapses at every stage of the editorial process, including “reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking.”

The AP (4/6) reports that the Columbia review said that the Rolling Stone article could “cast doubt on future accusations of rape” and “damaged the reputation of the Phi Kappa Psi chapter at U.Va. and depicted the university administration as neglectful.” Moreover, despite the reduction of the magazine’s editorial staff, the report said that the “problem was not a lack of resources,” but rather the magazine’s editorial “methodology.”

Al Jazeera America (4/7), Reuters (4/4, Simpson), BuzzFeed (4/7), the Wall Street Journal (4/6, Trachtenberg, Bauerlein, Subscription Publication), and NBC News (4/6) also cover this story.

Retraction Of Rolling Stone Article Sparks Sexual Assault Advocates’ Fears. Coverage continues today of theColumbia Journalism Review (4/7) report analyzing the now-debunked and retracted article in Rolling Stone about an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house at the University of Virginia. The Christian Science Monitor (4/6) reports that the report “reads like a treatise on how not to conduct journalism.” Advocates for campus sexual assault victims say that the story may inhibit other journalists from reporting on campus sexual assault, allowing the problem to fester. However, the report’s authors say they hope it will encourage journalists “to do better.” The piece reports that the Columbia report says that the reporter in question’s “determination to find an illustrative example that corroborated the story she wanted to tell” led her into error.

NBC News (4/7) reports that the retraction of the article “has triggered concerns that the journalistic fiasco could dissuade other victims from speaking out in the future,” noting that advocates say that victims “will be less likely to say anything” if they fear they won’t be believed. Advocates say that the “article’s unraveling” could “undermine broader attempts to raise awareness of sexual assaults on university campuses.”

Fraternity To Sue Rolling Stone Over Article. The AP (4/6, Suderman, Hajela) reports that that University of Virginia chapter of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity has announced that it plans to “‘pursue all available legal action’ against Rolling Stone, saying a Columbia Journalism School review shows the magazine acted recklessly and defamed its members” with the article. The article reports that Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll said Monday that “Rolling Stone’s ‘shock narrative…’ was rife with bad journalism, and the magazine has nobody but its own staff to blame.”

The Washington Post (4/6, Shapiro) reports that the fraternity said that the article was “reckless,” noting that the fraternity said in a statement that reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely “did not apologize directly to the Phi Psi chapter at U-Va.” The Post reports that Gov. Terry McAuliffe “described the Rolling Stone account as ‘shameful,” while members of the fraternity said that it “is considering expanding its lawsuit to include Erdely, the story’s author.”

UVAFrom:  NACAC Today In College Admissions, 4/7/15

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