Rolling Stone Retracts Rape Story–An “Avoidable…Journalistic Failure”


Rolling Stone retracted an explosive article detailing an alleged gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity after Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism concluded that the story was a “journalistic failure that was avoidable,” the Wall Street Journal reports. The story was written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and published last November under the headline “A Rape on Campus.” It led to a national uproar over sexual misconduct at college campuses. At UVA, President Teresa Sullivan suspended all Greek activities for six weeks and students marched in protest. Other media reports raised serious doubts about the veracity of the article and the reporting and editing process behind it.

Columbia's examination rendered a harsh verdict, saying the magazine had employed faulty “reporting, editing, editorial supervision, and fact-checking.” It also found that if the magazine's editors hadn't “rationalized as unnecessary essential practices of reporting,” they would likely have reconsidered publishing the story as prominently as they did, if they published it at all. The magazine's managing editor, Will Dana, said, “It's on me. I'm responsible.” Dana said he and Sean Woods, Erdely's editor, will stay at the magazine and she will continue to write for it. Erdely said reading the Columbia report detailing her mistakes was “a brutal and humbling experience.”

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