The Rolling Stone retraction of a story it published alleging a gang rape at a college frat house presents a graphic lesson in Journalism 101.
Be sure you get all sides of the story before you go to press.
The magazine is paying a huge price in its loss of credibility. And it should.
It well might pay even more — as in financially — if it loses a planned lawsuit filed by some of the principals involved in the coverage of the bogus story.
The magazine reported a woman named Jackie was raped by members of a University of Virginia fraternity. However, the magazine didn’t bother to check with Jackie’s friends, or with the fraternity members, or with others who might be able to corroborate Jackie’s story.
It turned out that on the night in question, there wasn’t even a party at the frat house.
The story broke down.
The magazine issued a retraction and an apology.
And this story now has put the media under the looking glass once again.
What still astounds me is that the reporter, her editors and the “fact checkers” still are employed by the magazine. No one has lost his or her job.
I’m scratching my head over this one. I’ve seen reporters and editors fired for less than what happened at Rolling Stone. No one bothered to check the details of Jackie’s story? No one thought to ask the reporter to talk to the fraternity members? The reporter didn’t bother to do her homework?
Where I come from, they call such so-called reporting a “hatchet job.”
To retract a story is to admit that it is false, that it is bogus, that it doesn’t stand up to the basic test of good journalism. Rolling Stone has issued its retraction.
Why hasn’t it punished the people responsible for soiling the magazine’s credibility?