ICYMI: No one was fired at Rolling Stone
Good morning. Today, I'm devoting the newsletter to Columbia Journalism School's review of Rolling Stone's "A Rape on Campus." The newsletter will be back to its normal format tomorrow.
- 'An anatomy of a journalistic failure'
The report, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, ran on both Rolling Stone's site and on Columbia Journalism Review's site. Here's part of the note that Rolling Stone includes: "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." (Rolling Stone) | From the report: "Rolling Stone’s repudiation of the main narrative in 'A Rape on Campus' is a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable. The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking." (CJR)
- The apology
On Sunday evening, the article's author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, issued an apology. "Over my 20 years of working as an investigative journalist — including at Rolling Stone, a magazine I grew up loving and am honored to work for — I have often dealt with sensitive topics and sources. In writing each of these stories I must weigh my compassion against my journalistic duty to find the truth. However, in the case of Jackie and her account of her traumatic rape, I did not go far enough to verify her story." (The New York Times)
- What's in the report?
Poynter's Al Tompkins went through the report last night and wrote about the key points, including the recommendations "that all journalists can learn from." (Poynter) | Tompkins also went through the entire report and shared pieces of it on Twitter throughout the night. (Poynter) | CNN points out three failures from the story. (CNN) | Erik Wemple writes: "Now we know how top editors at Rolling Stone view this historic failure, thanks to a fresh report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, which has spent recent months investigating 'A Rape on Campus.' In addition to confirming and expanding upon existing knowledge about the story, the report fetches the candid responses of Rolling Stone leadership on possible reforms.” (The Washington Post)
- From the authors
CJR's Liz Spayd interviewed the authors of the report, Columbia Journalism School Dean Steve Coll and Dean of Academic Affairs Sheila Coronel, about their findings. From Coronel: "Rolling Stone had the resources. But does this mean that a news organization that doesn’t have the same resources, say a college paper, cannot then report adequately on college rape? I don’t think that’s what our report says. In fact, our report says there are ways of doing this properly, and it’s a matter of reporting procedures and reporting standards and reporting fundamentals. It’s reporting 101." (CJR)
- The impact
Through a lawyer, "Jackie," the young woman at the center of the story, wouldn't comment to The Washington Post about the review. "U-Va. student Alex Pinkleton, who survived a rape and an attempted rape during her first two years on campus, told Columbia that Rolling Stone’s failures had potentially fostered a chilling environment for students to report sexual assaults. 'It’s going to be more difficult now to engage some people . . . because they have a preconceived notion that women lie about sexual assault,' Pinkleton said." (The Washington Post)
- 'How could this happen?'
Jay Rosen offers some thoughts about the report. "Asking 'how could this happen?' is not the same as asking, 'what could have prevented it?' The authors chose to focus their study on prevention — steps not taken that would have avoided disaster — rather than tracing those mistakes to their origins, which might include, for example, bad ideas or rotten assumptions. It’s a defensible decision, but it does have consequences. These ripple through the report." (Pressthink)
- 'Rolling Stone published a story that will live in journalistic infamy'
Poynter's Ben Mullin got reactions from several journalists, including Jeff Jarvis, Craig Silverman and S. Mitra Kalita. "Rolling Stone published a story that will live in journalistic infamy," Silverman said. "Its response is to do absolutely nothing to prevent it from happening again." (Poynter) | On Sunday night, I pulled together a Storify of reactions on Twitter. Many journalists found lessons from Rolling Stone's failures. (Storify)
- What's next?
Poynter's Kelly McBride suggests two steps, "both slow and arduous," that can help Rolling Stone regain credibility. (Poynter)
- Front page of the day, selected by Seth Liss
The story made the front page of The New York Times on Monday. (Courtesy the Newseum)
- More from the authors
Columbia will hold a press conference from noon to 1 eastern time today to discuss the review. You can watch it live. (Columbia Journalism School)