Rolling Stone magazine retracted its controversial story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia after an independent review by Columbia University deemed it a “failure of journalism,” the magazine’s managing editor said Sunday.
“The report was painful reading, to me personally and to all of us at Rolling Stone,” Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana said in an editor’s note appended to the outside review published on Rolling Stone’s website, and cross-published on the website of the Columbia Journalism Review magazine. “It is also, in its own way, a fascinating document – a piece of journalism … about a failure of journalism.”
OK, but then:
Despite the devastating CJR report, a spokeswoman for Rolling Stone confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that the editors handling the story would not lose their jobs and that its author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, would continue to write for the magazine as a contributing editor.
The Columbia authors wrote that Rolling Stone saw no need to change any of its journalistic practices.
Here is a link to the entire CJR report, published on Rolling Stone‘s website.
So, there was a massive “failure of journalism” here, but none of the journalists who failed so massively will lose their jobs, and none of the journalistic practices that led to this failure will change.
Somehow, this is so America 2015. Leaders “take full responsibility” for failure, but rarely seem to pay a price for it. As we tell our children, “‘Sorry’ is not a magic word.” That is, it’s great to say “I’m sorry” when you’ve done wrong, but saying the word does not erase the consequences of the deed. You have to show by your actions that you mean it.
The editors who handled that UVA story will remain in place. Unbelievably, even the writer who wrote the catastrophic lies will not suffer any professional penalty at the magazine.
How does this work, exactly? How does Rolling Stone gain its credibility back when its response to this disaster is basically, “Hey, mistakes were made”?