WTVM 12/12/14 Editorial: Lack of journalism ethics undermines credibility

(WTVM) - Rolling Stone magazine once focused just on the music industry but now is known for its exclusive investigative reporting that illuminates the dark corners of government or crime.

But their recent bombshell story about an alleged brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia was so poorly reported that the story - and Rolling Stone's credibility - has now unraveled faster than a cheap sweater.

The Washington Post stepped in and performed simple journalism 101 and uncovered new details about the rape victim's story and contacted her friends, something Rolling Stone failed to do.

It now turns out that much of the UVA student's rape story might be made up.

But this is not an editorial about whether rape victims should or should not be believed. Rape is a horrific crime, and victims who report it to police should expect it will be vigorously prosecuted.

Our focus is on the fallout from such bad journalism and how it threatens to undermine future important stories about sexual assault.

The Rolling Stone reporter took the victim's story as gospel, never independently confirmed the details and never interviewed her alleged attackers.

That is simply unacceptable and unethical by any journalistic standard.

Every reporter - including our own here at WTVM - must always strive to be fair and complete in telling every story, especially stories with explosive charges involving sexual abuse or race or politics.

Readers and viewers expect and deserve nothing less.


General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to WTVM Editorial Committee or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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