Rolling Stone recently retracted their article “A Rape on Campus” after investigating a reported act of sexual assault at UVA. The article directly criticized members of the UVA faculty and certain fraternity members, where the incident was perceived to have occurred. After much uproar and attention in the media, the article was immediately questioned for fact-checking. The Columbia School of Journalism issued a report arguing that the article contained “confirmation bias”, meaning that it only relied on one single source, which was the victim of the accused assault. Although the magazine was unable to find any evidence behind the story, this incident proves that we should remain critical consumers of what is published in the media. According to Crawford and Boyd’s “Six Provocations for Big Data”, just because we can access data through media outlets does not mean that it is ethical.

Although the article was retracted, the effects that the article had on the accusers did not vanish. Many UVA faculty members received death threats and hate e-mails due to how the article portrayed them. Not only were the accusers affected by the release of the article, but other victims of sexual assault have been hurt by the article, as it may make others who have been victims in the past reluctant to tell their stories. The moral of the story is, we cannot believe everything we see in the media and we should always read or consume media with our guards up.

The Columbia School of Journalism Report: What Went Wrong:



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