Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rolling Stone Tries to Regroup After Campus Rape Article Is Disputed

NY Times      Started nearly a half-century ago as a chronicle of 1960s counterculture, Rolling Stone established its journalistic credibility with provocative coverage of politics and current affairs.[...]

The magazine seemed to have struck again last month with a vivid account of a young woman who said she was gang-raped at a University of Virginia fraternity party, a story that helped drive the national debate over the problem of sexual assault on college campuses. [ Original Rolling Stone article with apology]
But late last week Rolling Stone found itself facing a crisis that threatened its reputation as a place for serious, significant journalism. Faced with reporting in The Washington Post that appeared to undermine crucial details of the accuser’s account, and a rebuttal of some aspects from the fraternity, the magazine published a note to readers on Friday saying that it had reservations about the article. It also acknowledged that it had erred in relying solely on the word of the accuser, named only as Jackie, and in agreeing not to try to contact the men she accused. 

“I have serious questions about what happened, and I am at this point not ready to say what happened that night,” the magazine’s managing editor, Will Dana, said in an interview Friday. “There should never be a story in Rolling Stone where I feel that way.” [...]

Rolling Stone was harshly criticized by media critics for its journalistic lapses, and by women’s groups who said it set back the cause of encouraging sexual assault victims to come forward. [...]

The accuser appeared to be distressed, perhaps as a result of her trauma, according to a person familiar with the newsroom’s process, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to describe sensitive events. She had repeatedly asked Ms. Erdely that those she accused of raping her not be contacted. When the magazine brought up the issue again later, she threatened to withdraw from the story. [...]

The magazine faces some potential legal liability, said Eugene Volokh, a University of California, Los Angeles, law professor who also writes for The Washington Post. “Based on the facts as I have read about them in the media,” he said, “I would not have approved the publication of a story that names a fraternity, when there hadn’t been a call to the alleged rapists.” [...]

1 comment :

  1. From the article: "Sabrina had talked to quite a few other women who had said, ‘If you talk to me, you can’t go talk to my attacker’ ” Mr. Dana said, and so it seemed like a reasonable request."

    To my mind, such demands should raise a red flag in the mind of any serious journalist. It makes me wonder whether anything they publish can be trusted. Clearly, their standards are flexible, to say the least.


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