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Rolling Stone announces independent review of discredited UVA rape article

Ongoing reports from The Washington Post and other outlets continue to raise questions and doubts about the reporting and fact checking of Rolling Stone’s November article “A Rape on Campus,” which opened with a graphic description of an alleged gang rape in a University of Virginia fraternity house.

Today, Rolling Stone Editor and Publisher Jan Wenner released an editor’s note saying the magazine will enlist administrators at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism to conduct an “independent review … of the editorial process that led to the publication of this story.”

“As soon as they are finished,” he writes, “we will publish their report.”

Doubts about the accuracy of the November piece, written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, first arose when Erdely seemed to evade questions from Slate and Washington Post reporters about whether she tried to contact the men Jackie, the subject identified only by nickname in her article, accused of rape.

Follow-up reporting by the Washington Post uncovered that Jackie’s close friends doubted her account of the alleged gang rape. The newspaper’s reporting also disputed basic components of Jackie’s story including that the man she named as the leader of the attack against her was never a member of the fraternity where she said it happened.

The Washington Post has interviewed the friends Jackie first went to following the alleged rape. Those friends say their conversations with Jackie were misrepresented in the Rolling Stone story. Last week, the newspaper reported that emails sent by Erdely and a Rolling Stone fact checker to University of Virginia staff give no sign that school officials were asked about Jackie, her alleged rape nor her interactions with university officials.

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