According to the New York Times, Will Dana, managing editor of Rolling Stone, will leave the publication on Aug. 7, just months after the magazine suffered an embarrassing retraction of a widely read story on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia. A spokeswoman for Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner did not tell the Times whether the controversy surrounding its UVA rape story last year led to Dana's departure, instead saying "many factors go into a decision like this." Wenner, according to the Times, called Dana "one of the finest editors I have ever worked with."
In a statement obtained by the Times, Dana said:
After 19 years at Rolling Stone, I have decided that it is time to move on. ... It has been a great ride and I loved it even more than I imagined I would. I am as excited to see where the magazine goes next as I was in the summer of 1978 when I bought my first issue.
The news comes the same day as three University of Virginia graduates filed suit against the magazine, its publisher Wenner Media, and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely for defamation and infliction of emotional distress due its story "A Rape on Campus." In May, UVA dean and head of the school's sexual misconduct board Nicole Eramo also filed suit against the magazine for defamation as the story claimed she did not support the alleged rape victim. Eramo is seeking $7.5 million in damages.
The lengthy Rolling Stone story, which claimed a gang rape took place at a UVA frat party in 2012 and the school failed to discipline the alleged perpetrators, was initially received as groundbreaking in shedding light on the country's campus rape problem. Within a week, however, the story fell apart, and it was criticized for having largely relied on a single source — the alleged victim identified in the story only as Jackie — and the reporter's lack of due process in corroborating her account. In April, a review commissioned by Rolling Stone and conducted by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism found multiple errors in the reporting and editing process. Soon after, Rolling Stone retracted the article.
However, at the time, Rolling Stone did not fire a single person in connection with the story, which elicited another maelstrom of criticism. Dana may be the first employee in direct connection with the story's publication to depart. Dana has been with the outlet since 1996, first as a senior editor before becoming managing editor in 2005. He also worked as editorial director of Men's Journal. There is no indication where he will go next.