The legal problem of the rolling stone case is the inability of the reporter Sabrina Rubin Elderly to obtain reliable evidence on the campus rape story. In this case, the elderly received intelligence from Jackie, a rape survivor who was not able to share full information (Coronel, Coll, and Derek). Jackie mentioned that she had been assaulted by a mob of seven men and that the aquatic worker was the victim of the assault. However, Jackie did not send the full name of the employee saying that she always feared for her safety (Shapiro). Instead of Jackie finding out if the information and the names that Jackie had given her was correct, she went ahead to publish the names which potentially spoiled their reputation.
According to the report presented by Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, the story contained fake stories, and the mistakes would have indeed been prevented (Coronel et al.). In this case, Elderly never followed up on the classmates that Jackie supposedly talked to after her rape incidence and instead chose to name them in the report. Moreover, Elderly did not question Jackie’s inconsistency when answering some of her issues and instead choose to be patient and ignore some of the missing links in the story (Coronel, et al.). Further, connecting the school’s dean, Nicole Eramo, and the Phi Kappa PSI Fraternity members without conducting prior research and proper investigations showed the reporter’s inclination on Jackie’s one sided story (Shapiro). Elderly reported that Eramo had failed to assist Jackie after the incidence and even mentioned to her that they do not publicize rape stories since parents would not choose the school for their children, an allegation that was false (Mullin). Elderly indeed was guilty of defamation since her actions indicate that she knew the information she presented was full of malice and untrue or did not care enough to investigate the information she received from Jackie (Mullin).
I highly agree with the report filed by the Columbia Journalism Review on the Rolling Stone’s story. Journalists ought to hold themselves with high regards and ensure that they produce credible and well-researched stories. It is indeed true that reporters ought to be sensitive to the victims especially when they are recounting a terrifying incidence, but they should ensure that they always record the right information. The reporter should engage all the parties named in a particular occurrence to make sure that the information from both sides tally. Reporters should not be driven by their selfish desires to produce a story to get massive sales and publication but by the truth. It is also indeed unethical to link people mentioned in a story and even publicize their names without proper investigation and consent.
Defamation is a serious offense especially when it is directed towards the public servants. In this case, stating that the dean of students was involved in the rape case was indeed defamation since Elderly has no evidence and it even compromises on her security. The fraternity complained that they had even been getting death threats from anonymous people further highlighting the great danger that the publicized report did to the school. It was indeed wrong to mention some students and yet fail to give their full information which means that Jackie may also have had malicious motives.
Coronel, Sheila, Coll Steve and Derek Kravitz Dereket “Rolling Stone & UVA: Columbia School Of Journalism’s Report.” Rolling Stone, 2015, http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-what-went-wrong-20150405.
Mullin, Benjamin. “U-Va. Dean Sues Rolling Stone For ‘False’ Portrayal In Retracted Rape Story.” Washington Post, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/u-va-dean-sues-rolling-stone-for-false-portrayal-in-retracted-rape-story/2015/05/12/2128a84a-f862-11e4-a13c-193b1241d51a_story.html?utm_term=.f9d0220356bb.
Shapiro, T. Rees. “U-Va. Dean Sues Rolling Stone For ‘False’ Portrayal In Retracted Rape Story.” Washington Post, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/u-va-dean-sues-rolling-stone-for-false-portrayal-in-retracted-rape-story/2015/05/12/2128a84a-f862-11e4-a13c-193b1241d51a_story.html?utm_term=.f9d0220356bb.