Summary: In the midst of Rolling Stone magazine being discredited for not fully reporting the story of an alleged sexual assault, we must focus our attention more on the very real issue of sexual assaults on college campuses.
When Rolling Stone magazine published the 9,000-word story titled “A Rape on Campus” in November 2014, some of the editors knew the story wasn’t fully reported. According to a report released by the Columbia School of Journalism on Sunday, this was a major breakdown of basic journalism practices. Nobody was fired, and the story has since been redacted, taken off the website and replaced with the nearly 13,000-word report from Columbia. The story of this woman known only as “Jackie” was, in a sense, silenced.
Two semesters ago, The Kent Stater published a story for which a correction and redaction had to be made. Focused on the issue of microaggressions, the story itself had substance and centered on a topic the editors deemed important to report on. Similar to Rolling Stone, the Stater went through the normal fact-checking routines, but somehow a mistake was made. The reporter of that story fabricated the events and has since never worked for student media. All content the reporter reported was also redacted from KentWired.
We cannot say whether the events of the Rolling Stone story actually occurred. However, after a lengthy investigation, the police in Virginia concluded that no such incident actually occurred during the timeframe given by the main source. The fraternity, whose members allegedly committed the sexual assault described in the story, is now seeking legal action against Rolling Stone.
Despite the negative consequences against Rolling Stone, despite the egregious errors in reporting and editing made by the publication, and despite the results of multiple police investigations into the case of “Jackie” and other alleged sexual assaults on the campus — despite all of these things, we must focus on the more important topic: the issue of sexual assault on campus.
As students, we know the culture here at Kent State. We can read about the culture of other universities, and we can talk with our friends about what they may or may not have experienced. As students, we should be addressing this issue. If sexual assaults are occurring here at Kent State or other universities, we should address the problem from its roots. And while we should be demanding more accountability from the media we consume, we should also be demanding more of our fellow students to address and prevent the issue from occurring before it needs to be talked about in the media. And we should do this before the important issues are silenced by poor news decisions and reporting errors.