Editor’s word: Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone this week apologized for and redacted a November story titled, “A Rape on Campus,” which told the horrific story of a University of Virginia student who was raped at a fraternity.

A review from the Columbia School of Journalism found that Rolling Stone did not use basic fact-checking skills when reporting, writing, and editing the story. The article quotes friends of the alleged victim, Jackie; however, an article from the New York Times reports that  Jackie’s friends never made the statements attributed to them. The Times also said that there was a lack of skepticism by the magazine in investigating Jackie’s claims.

Performing these vital fact-checking tasks, which journalists are taught during school, could have saved Rolling Stone from printing a story with huge errors and inaccuracies.

This incident is troubling for a few reasons. It is discouraging to learn that a renowned source was not careful in reporting on a serious topic. Colleges and universities have been working in recent years to raise awareness of sexual assault and prevent it from occurring. But, this is an issue that extends beyond campus boundaries. Assault can affect anyone, regardless of their age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. Not taking the utmost care in reporting a story on a woman’s assault is wrong.

It is also shocking to hear that journalists employed at such an esteemed magazine would not carefully fact check a story of such weight and power. Have other serious mistakes gone to print in Rolling Stone?

One of the first fundamentals we learn in journalism school is to be 100 percent certain of every fact and statement we make in an article.

What does this incident say to journalism students? This kind of blatant error and disregard for journalistic practice sets the wrong example.

Though everyone makes mistakes once in a while, this is one that never should have happened.