Sloppy journalism can ruin lives. Check your sources. Before publishing accusations against someone, get that person’s side of the story. My personal belief is that it’s silly to want to join clubs with greek letters, but then again in my spare time in the past few weeks I have pretended to be shot by a lyric soprano in Sweeney Todd and I’ve pretended to help crucify Jesus in JC Superstar, so who am I to judge? As a journalism teacher I am appalled at the cascading failures that enabled this story to see the light of day. I do applaud Rolling Stone for being this transparent about its efforts to track down the internal flaws that led to the publication of this story. I’ll be teaching “News Writing” in the fall, so I’m blogging this as a possible case study in journalistic ethics.
This report was painful reading, to me personally and to all of us at Rolling Stone. It is also, in its own way, a fascinating document — a piece of journalism, as Coll describes it, about a failure of journalism. With its publication, we are officially retracting ‘A Rape on Campus.’ We are also committing ourselves to a series of recommendations about journalistic practices that are spelled out in the report. We would like to apologize to our readers and to all of those who were damaged by our story and the ensuing fallout, including members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and UVA administrators and students. Sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses, and it is important that rape victims feel comfortable stepping forward. It saddens us to think that their willingness to do so might be diminished by our failings. –Will Dana, Managing Editor, Rolling Stone.