Editorial: Sensationalism never outweighs integrity
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The November 2014 issue of Rolling Stone magazine featured a story called “A Rape on Campus.” The article described the gang rape of a girl at the University of Virginia as part of an initiation ceremony into a fraternity and the school’s apparent failure to properly deal with the incident.
Initially, the story stirred outrage at the events depicted. Soon, however, various reporters started raising concerns about the legitimacy of the story.
A study published last week by the Columbia School of Journalism and commissioned by Rolling Stone found that there was not sufficient evidence provided in the article and that many of the facts surrounding the rape did not line up.
An investigation found that the accused fraternity said there was no party that night and the person the girl claimed had been her date to the party did not actually exist.
The Columbia study pointed at the single anonymous source and lack of interviews with the accused parties as proof of journalistic negligence.
We can imagine how the Rolling Stone writer was drawn in by the story and its power to shine light on a serious issue, and chose to put aside the skeptical outlook that is so vital for an honest journalist.
We believe the author wanted to expose injustice and to empathise with the alleged victim, goals that we often share as well.
In light of these events, the Sagamore reaffirms its commitment to thorough research, meticulous fact checking and journalistic integrity. Our duty is to ensure that the information we publish is as accurate and truthful as possible.
If a story arises that speaks of injustice, then we will do everything we can to publish it in the most accurate manner.
This process includes verifying details, coming into the process without an agenda and capturing every side of the issue. We strive never to get carried away by a dramatic story.
This is not to say we are infallible, and in the cases where we have made mistakes, we take time to understand what went wrong and ensure that we do not make those errors in the future.
We encourage readers to maintain skepticism.
It is important to ask questions about how news is gathered instead of putting blind faith in the media.