Rolling Stone acknowledged Friday serious discrepancies in a story published last month about a brutal gang rape of a woman named Jackie at the University of Virginia.
Editors had said they decided to honor Jackie’s request not to contact the man she claimed coordinated her attack for fear of retaliation. IntoÂ their readers on Friday, they admitted that was a mistake.Â
“In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced,” they said.
“Her friends and rape activists on campus strongly supported Jackie’s account,” the magazine explained. “She had spoken of the assault in campus forums. We reached out to both the local branch and the national leadership of the fraternity where Jackie said she was attacked. They responded that they couldn’t confirm or deny her story but had concerns about the evidence.”
Regardless of the veracity of the story, what does this kind of bad journalism mean for sexual assault victims seeking to be taken seriously? How will this change how universities respond to allegations?
In writing her explosive story, should Rolling StoneÂ contributing editor Sabrina Rubin Erdely have made a better effort to speak with the accused? Do her explanations for not doing so hold up?
WGBH’s Beat the PressÂÂ these questions on Friday’s broadcast:
Last month, On Campus took a closer look at the evolving role of resident assistants in reporting sexual assaults.
[Cross-posted at On Campus: The WGBH News Higher Education Blog]