uvarollingstoneI am not a ROLLING STONE hater. I really like the magazine and am a reader. I like their music coverage, and I also liked their articles. I’ve always felt they did a quality job of investigative reporting covering complex topics with integrity, accuracy and presented a strong point of view that questioned mainstream views.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

I now think they are journalistic amateurs, should stick to writing about music, writing soft articles about rock stars. My disappointment stems from their November 19, 2014 article, A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA. The article played on my own personal beliefs that:

1. Universities don’t take sexual assault as seriously as they should
2. Worse yet, they whitewash serious issues for fear of tarnishing their supposedly sterling reputations
3. Why would anyone claim go through the horror of claiming to be gang raped, if it wasn’t so.

So when ROLLING STONE slammed the University of Virginia in its November 19 article, I felt “right on”, and originally thought it was a great article. I have no bias against UVA, but when I first read the November article, I thought that it’s time that stuck-up academic institutions, trying to protect their image, get crushed. There are plenty of examples when supposedly great universities have been guilty of incredible arrogance and horrific cover ups.

This was not such an example.

What we now know is that ROLLING STONE did such an amateurish job of “fact checking” (they did virtually none) that it left itself, and as a result readers like me, wide open to be duped. The follow up article in the latest issue (April 23, 2015) What went wrong: An Anatomy of a Journalistic Failure and the full report should be required reading in every Journalism 101 class. The article summarized the findings of the independent review of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. It detailed the many failures of ROLLING STONE’S journalism, basic stuff that they teach in the same Journalism 101.

It is an excellent summary of bad judgements and poor journalism. Short of fabricating the story, it was amateur hour. But what is troubling is the comment at the end of the article that “ROLLING STONE’S senior editors are unanimous in the belief that the story’s failure does not require them to change their editorial systems”. They feel that just made bad decisions because of the subject matter. How nice of them to let themselves off the hook.

Unfortunately, there’s an issue far deeper than ROLLING STONE’S poor journalism. The issue of sexual assault is a serious one and gang rape does happen on campus. Now thanks to ROLLING STONE we’ll be more deeply questioning the legitimacy of the 99% of reports than are real and placing bigger road blocks for victims to step forward.

Do us all a favor ROLLING STONE and just stick to covering the latest Who reunion tour and stay away from serious journalism. Even Doctor Hook & the Medicine Show (Cover of the Rolling Stone) should stop singing your song.

More Strumings

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