Rolling Stone magazine on Sunday withdrew and apologized for a discredited story about an alleged gang rape on a US college campus, publishing a review of the debacle that found “avoidable” failures in basic journalism practices.
An 8,000-word report into the article by the Columbia Journalism Review found lapses in journalism standards at the pop-culture magazine from start to finish of the purported expose on rape, which prompted a police investigation and sparked a public outcry when first published in November last year.
Investigators probing the allegations last month said they found no evidence to support the explosive claims of a violent gang rape at a college fraternity house in Virginia.
Questions were raised almost immediately after the article was published and Rolling Stone had all but retracted its story after apologizing in December last year.
The magazine, which has a reputation for investigative work, said it was wrong to have trusted the purported victim’s version of what happened in September 2012 at a University of Virginia frat house.
Despite the shrinking editorial staff at Rolling Stone, the review found the failures for the article were ones of judgement and not due to a shortage of resources.
The reporting is “a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable. The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking,” the review said.
Journalists at Rolling Stone failed to identify problems and discuss them, according to the review.
The author of the article, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, issued an apology on Sunday, saying she “did not go far enough” to verify the story, according to US media.
The controversial article attempted to show a dramatic example of sexual assault on a college campus and the struggles victims face afterward, a problem at universities across the US.
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