Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana pens this note from the Editor as an introduction to a review of “what went wrong” in its erroneous report from Sabrina Rubin Erdely on an alleged rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house.
Dana confirms that the magazine fully retracts the original story, while CNN’s Brian Stelter reports that Rolling Stone’s publisher will not punish any employees involved in its publication.
Before the 12,855-word report begins, Dana concludes his introduction with a reaffirmation of the story’s original narrative, that “sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses.” Read the full note below:
Last November, we published a story, ‘A Rape on Campus’ [RS 1223], that centered around a University of Virginia student’s horrifying account of her alleged gang rape at a campus fraternity house. Within days, commentators started to question the veracity of our narrative. Then, when The Washington Post uncovered details suggesting that the assault could not have taken place the way we described it, the truth of the story became a subject of national controversy.
As we asked ourselves how we could have gotten the story wrong, we decided the only responsible and credible thing to do was to ask someone from outside the magazine to investigate any lapses in reporting, editing and fact-checking behind the story. We reached out to Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter himself, who accepted our offer. We agreed that we would cooperate fully, that he and his team could take as much time as they needed and write whatever they wanted. They would receive no payment, and we promised to publish their report in full. (A condensed version of the report will appear in the next issue of the magazine, out April 8th.)
This report was painful reading, to me personally and to all of us at Rolling Stone. It is also, in its own way, a fascinating document a piece of journalism, as Coll describes it, about a failure of journalism. With its publication, we are officially retracting ‘A Rape on Campus.’ We are also committing ourselves to a series of recommendations about journalistic practices that are spelled out in the report. We would like to apologize to our readers and to all of those who were damaged by our story and the ensuing fallout, including members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and UVA administrators and students. Sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses, and it is important that rape victims feel comfortable stepping forward. It saddens us to think that their willingness to do so might be diminished by our failings.
Will Dana, Managing Editor
Read the full report here.