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‘Rolling Stone’ Calls UVA Rape Article a ‘Failure’, Retracts Entire Story

Rolling Stone magazine has released the results of an independent review of their controversial story “A Rape on Campus” by the Columbia Journalism School, and will retract the entire 12,000-word piece. Ultimately, the review called the piece “a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable,” adding, “The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking.” The original magazine feature recounted the story of a woman only cited as “Jackie,” who said she was violently ganged raped by members of a UVA fraternity at a party. But, once the story was published, other outlets—notably the Washington Post—uncovered some basic discrepancies in the piece: There was no party at the frat house the night of the alleged attack; the friends Jackie quoted in the piece were not spoken to by the writer; there were questions about if the orchestrator of the attack even existed. A police investigation into the incident found no evidence that the gang rape occurred, but added, “That doesn’t mean something terrible didn’t happen to Jackie on the evening of Sept. 28, 2012.” The writer of the piece and the editors of Rolling Stone have apologized.

The report bluntly said, “The magazine set aside or rationalized as unnecessary essential practices of reporting that, if pursued, would likely have led the magazine’s editors to reconsider publishing Jackie’s narrative so prominently, if at all.” The President of the University of Virginia released a statement last night blasting the publication that said, in part, “Rolling Stone falsely accused some University of Virginia students of heinous, criminal acts, and falsely depicted others as indifferent to the suffering of their classmate. The story portrayed university staff members as manipulative and callous toward victims of sexual assault. Such false depictions reinforce the reluctance sexual assault victims already feel about reporting their experience, lest they be doubted or ignored.” Last month, UVA’s Phi Kappa Psi, the fraternity featured in the story, told The New York Times it is “now exploring its legal options to address the extensive damage caused by Rolling Stone” …

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