Rolling Stone Owes Readers, Jackie, and Survivors Everywhere an Explanation

They threw their source under a bus. Then they had second thoughts. Now what?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Three weeks after a bombshell Rolling Stone feature that described a brutal gang rape that it indicated was part of a University of Virginia fraternity’s initiation rites, the magazine—which has been under fire as other news outlets, notably the Washington Post, found discrepancies in the account of the victim, identified as Jackie—suddenly seemed to retract its story. In a statement, Rolling Stone said that it had “come to the conclusion that our trust in [Jackie] was misplaced.” Rolling Stone has since walked back that statement—and the Post story that may have prompted it to turn so brutally on its source also seems to have changed in a few key spots. In neither case were readers informed that the text had been altered.

I, uh, have some issues with all of this, particularly about the effect the rush to reporting/retraction may have not just on Jackie’s welfare (though assuredly that), but on that of other sexual assault survivors to date and yet to come. What follows is a collection of tweets on this story. Many of them lead to threads well worth following.

As these statistics show, making up rape is very rare. Whatever the verdict on the Rolling Stone piece ends up being, what has transpired is a reminder how careful we journalists need to be, especially with a story that’s so explosive.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate