Journalistic Corrections in the Digital Age Require Unfettered Transparency

The bombshell announcement that Rolling Stone was backing away from its University of Virginia rape story has opened a societal window to the nature of story corrections and how publications handle journalistic errors.

Rolling Stone's apology after backing away from its UVA rape story has done nothing to regain the trust of its readership and critics, writes Alexis Sobel Fitts of Columbia Journalism Review. Her article recounts the tarnished story's post-published saga, from the explosive first few days after it was released to the addition of Managing Editor Will Dana's much-maligned correction. Fitts explains that Rolling Stone can take a cue from previous journalistic meltdowns at other publications for how to handle this embarrassing situation:


"Rather than tweaking an apology in response to the findings of other media organizations, past mea culpas suggest that Rolling Stone would be best served by launching its own investigation from the get-go."

That's what the New York Times did in the wake of the 2003 Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal. The newspaper devoted itself to investigating and reporting on its own errors. Fitts suggests that this sort of transparency is vital today in the digital world. There are no secrets online; internet fact-checkers can smell BS from miles away. If Rolling Stone ever wants to be taken seriously again as a publication with more to offer than reviews of the latest Taylor Swift album, it's got to put its own pride on the chopping block and raise the knife.

Take a look at Fitts' full article (linked below) and let us know what you think of the mess surrounding this story.

Read more at Columbia Journalism Review

Photo credit: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

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