A new report declares that the Rolling Stone magazine article on a rape allegation at the University of Virginia was not only a "journalistic failure," but a failure that could and should have been avoided.

"The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking,” states the report crafted by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and released on Sunday.

The Columbia report was published on Rolling Stone's website along with an official retraction of the story and an apology from Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana.

Sabrina Rubin Erdely, who is still contributing to Rolling Stone magazine, wrote the November 2014 story on the rape allegation.

The magazine solicited a review on the article following intense media scrutiny that uncovered mistakes regarding reporting on an alleged rape by seven members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. The Rolling Stone article ignited intense protests on campus.

Shortly after the article's publication, other media outlets discovered discrepancies in the accuser’s account of the alleged rape, putting the Rolling Stone story under intense public scrutiny. Within a month, Rolling Stone issued a statement acknowledging discrepancies regarding the rape incident as related by a woman only identified as "Jackie." The woman's account was the lone source for the story.

Rolling Stone magazine failed in investigating leads regarding the allegation, notes the Columbia Journalism report.

"The editors made judgments about attribution, fact-checking and verification that greatly increased their risks of error but had little or nothing to do with protecting Jackie’s position," states the report, noting the fallout may negatively impact future rape allegations by victims, hurt the reputation of the fraternity and paint the university administration as not doing its job.

In short, the report states, Rolling Stone failed to identify and investigate problems about the reportage but did not follow through regarding accuracy issues and questions raised by the magazine's fact checking staff.

"These false accusations have been extremely damaging to our entire organization, but we can only begin to imagine the setback this must have dealt to survivors of sexual assault," said Stephen Scipione, president of the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi.

The report reveals in concise detail how the Rolling Stone article failed and how the publication's editorial process did not follow best practices in journalism. Instead of questioning everything, the article did the opposite, notes the report.

"The job of editors is to be the last line of defense against reporters who get carried away by an unreliable source, or stampeded by their zeal to break a big story, or who fall for a pat narrative,” states Bill Keller, former executive editor of The Times and current editor in chief of the Marshall Project.

Erdely, according to her own notes on the rape story, was striving to provide an article illustrating the "pervasive culture of sexual harassment/rape culture" on today’s collegiate campuses but she, along with Rolling Stone’s editorial staff, did not seek out evidence to verify Jackie's account or seek input from those who may have revealed challenges to the rape allegation.

Rolling Stone says it will implement the report’s recommendations on journalistic best practices. The report was written by Sheila Coronel, Steve Coll and Derek Kravitz of the Columbia J-school.

"The magazine set aside or rationalized as unnecessary essential practices of reporting that, if pursued, would likely have led the magazine's editors to reconsider publishing Jackie's narrative so prominently, if at all. The published story glossed over the gaps in the magazine's reporting by using pseudonyms and by failing to state where important information had come from,” states the report, noting that clearer policies on reporting practices could have prevented the magazine's errors. Stronger fact checking would have raised questions and delved deeper into the actual facts, notes the report.

"We would like to apologize to our readers and to all of those who were damaged by our story and the ensuing fallout, including members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and UVA administrators and students," Dana wrote in response to the Columbia assessment.

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