Rolling Stone Retracts Controversial Article

The now-retracted Rolling Stone article.

The now-retracted Rolling Stone article.

Rolling Stone‘s controversial “A Rape on Campus,” which took the nation by storm last December, was finally retracted on April 5 due to “a failure of journalism.” The article, which (graphically) detailed an alleged incident of organized rape at a fraternity at the University of Virginia in 2012, went viral immediately after its release and was instantly met with scores of criticism regarding its accuracy. Sabrina Rubin Erdely issued a formal apology directed at readers of Rolling Stone, UVA, and victims of sexual assault explaining how she became caught up in “Jackie’s” account of the alleged assault, preventing her from striving for better accuracy in reporting.

An official statement from UVA claimed that Erdely’s story “damaged serious efforts to address [sexual assault]” as the article “falsely accused some University of Virginia students of heinous, criminal acts, and falsely depicted others as indifferent to eh suffering of their classmate.” Rolling Stone‘s version of the article now consists of a lengthy explanation of the journalistic process behind the drafting of the original story, and its final section offers guidelines for journalists covering the issue of rape in the future, namely issues of “balancing sensitivity and verification,” “corroborating survivor accounts,” and “holding institutions to account.” The saga closes with a warning:

The responsibilities that universities have in preventing campus sexual assault – and the standards of performance they should be held to – are important matters of public interest. Rolling Stone was right to take them on. The pattern of its failure draws a map of how to do better.