The Center for Public Integrity’s groundbreaking investigation into campus sexual assault is being cited as a model for responsible journalistic practice by a report dissecting the now-infamous Rolling Stone magazine piece on a purported gang rape at the University of Virginia.
The much-anticipated audit, released Sunday night by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, said the magazine’s reporter, editors, and fact-checker had failed to undertake simple measures to verify a student’s account of being raped by seven men at a fraternity on the UVA campus. The report chronicles a host of failures at every editorial level, describing them as “basic, even routine journalistic practice — not special investigative effort.”
“If these reporting pathways had been followed,” according to the Columbia report, “Rolling Stone very likely would have avoided trouble.”
On Sunday, the magazine retracted and apologized for its December 2014 article, “A Rape on Campus,” accepting the audit’s conclusions and adopting its recommendations.
The original Rolling Stone article re-ignited a national conversation about sexual assault on college campuses that has continued to grow since the Center’s investigation into the topic six years ago.