When Will 'Rolling Stone's UVA Story Review Come Out? We Can Expect It Very Soon
Last November, Rolling Stone published a long-form article recounting a horrific gang rape by fraternity members at the University of Virginia. Since its publication, several discrepancies in the story have come to light, particularly that Rolling Stone never contacted the accused fraternity members for their account, a decision that the magazine admits was a mistake. In response to the dispute that's come to overshadow the important discourse on campus sexual assault that the story initially sparked, managing editor Will Dana announced that Rolling Stone will publish a review of the UVA rape story, which will reportedly come out in early April.
The review, which Dana announced on Sunday, is being conducted by Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, whom the magazine contacted in December. Columbia University's review of the story, titled "A Rape on Campus," will focus on the editorial process, and dean Steve Coll will likely interview the article's writer, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the story's editors, and the fact-checkers. When the review was announced, Rolling Stone gave Coll and his team full access to its staff and materials.
In addition to the editorial process, Coll told The New York Times, the review will also "have the freedom to move in any direction along the way that we believe would be germane and of public interest."
As for when we can expect the review, Dana, who has not read the report, told the Times in an email:
Steve Coll has not filed yet, but I expect the report soon and the plan is to publish in the next couple of weeks.
Rolling Stone's publisher, Jann Wenner, echoed Dana's message, telling CNN:
Expecting it in about two weeks and will publishing shortly thereafter in full.
The story's intentions were noble, and for the first few weeks, the story succeeded in engaging the country in discussions on sexual assault at universities and whether schools were doing enough to respond to and prevent incidents, the article about the UVA rape has become more notorious for its questionable credibility than its content.
The 9,000-word article told the story of a girl referred to as "Jackie." According to the article, a man known as "Drew" brought Jackie to a party at his fraternity, where he and several other brothers raped and assaulted her in a dark room. Since its publication, media outlets, most notably The Washington Post, have pointed to multiple discrepancies: the fraternity insists it never hosted a party the night in question; the magazine could not find the main perpetrator, Drew, or another accused brother; and, according to emails obtained by the Post through the Freedom of Information Act, the magazine never contacted UVA about Jackie's rape.
But perhaps the magazine's biggest blunder was not attempting to obtain the fraternity members' side of the story. In a lengthy editor's note now preceding the exposé, Dana writes:
We published the article with the firm belief that it was accurate. Given all of these reports, however, we have come to the conclusion that we were mistaken in honoring Jackie's request to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account. In trying to be sensitive to the unfair shame and humiliation many women feel after a sexual assault, we made a judgment – the kind of judgment reporters and editors make every day. We should have not made this agreement with Jackie and we should have worked harder to convince her that the truth would have been better served by getting the other side of the story.
The Charlottesville Police Department has also conducted their own investigation into the assault and will report their findings later on Monday.
As for Columbia's review, hopefully it'll determine whether the writer and the magazine's editors did enough to assess the strength of Jackie's story and how those editors reacted once it was assessed. Regardless of how responsible Rolling Stone was in writing and publishing the story, one unfortunate consequence has already occurred: the spotlight has been taken off the sexual assault epidemic on college campuses, which is indisputably real.Images: Getty Images (4)