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Case Study: A Rape on Campus

2021-09-10 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Essay范文

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Introduction

Many people in our society concerned the issue of campus security, especially families that have or are going to have a college girl. In recent years, media tend to concentrate more on the campus sexual assault, aiming at demanding justice and drawing more public concern. However, not all media articles were on the purpose of protecting victims’ right.

A Rape on Campus” is a magazine article written by Sabrina Erdely and originallt published in Rolling Stone on November 19,2014. By this article, Erdely claimed a gang rape happened on a first-year UVA girl, Jackie Coakeley, who was identified as Jackie in the article. She had participated a party hosted by UVA’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity by a junior student “Drew”, whom she was having roman tic relationship with. At the party, Jackie was forced to enter a dark room and then be raped by seven fraternity members as a part of initiation rite. While Jackie’s narration generated great public and media attention, many mainstream magazines engaged in the investigation found many significant discrepancies from Erdely’s article and official investigation into the campus rape failed to find any evidence to support the veracity of the story. Then, Rolling Stone delivered many apologizeto the public in 2015.

Body

Elaborating and analyzing Rolling Stones investigation method

A Rape on Campus was developed mainly on Jackie’s narration in a literary manner. Erdely used many words to depict the innocent and victim image of Jackie, and the long story was full of detailed, psychological, and linguistic description based merely on Jakie’s narration. To large extent, the narrative story (the fist half of the report) confused its reader whether this is a news report or a literary work, while the second half is more of an advocacy. As the framing of coverage can affect people’s attitude towards news, Erdely wrote this article with evident and strong intention rather than for sake of delivering truth. More importantly, Erdely was then accused of not interviewing any fraternity members that involved in the alleged rape to test the veracity of the article. In other words, Erdely declared the fraternity members guilty with only unilateral narration from Jackie. This has violated the code of conduct that a journalist has the responsibility is to present reality based on principles of objective, fairness, and factuality.

Although Erdely quoted from Jackie’s friends, and from several college men involved in the gang rape, it was revealed that she had not interviewed any of the men accused of the gang rape. Facing question from media and the public, Erdely had tried to pass the buck by saying that the UVA fraternity’s contact page was pretty outdated. However, it is the responsibility for a journalist to spare no effort to exam a story’s veracity and obtain diversified sources to promise the objectivity and impartiality of a report. It was Erdely’s and the editor’s negligent that allowed the news to be published without fact checking.

There were also misconducts regarding Rolling Stone’s attitude on dealing with its information provider. Jackie told the Post that Erdely turned down her request for not to quote her in the article , but agreed not to contact people assaulted her; while a qualified journalist should respect interviewer’s request for privacy and have the capacity to balance the relationship between the accuracy of a news and the necessitate to respect the accuser. If Erdely realized that not to contact people assaulted Jackie may result in distortion, she might communicate in advance with Jackie to acquire her allowance to contact key characters or choose not to report this untested news. Report from The Washington Post mentioned that two friends of Jackie confirmed that Rolling Stone twisted their words to match Jackie’s narration . Randall, one of Jackie’s friends that Rolling stone quoted, told The Washington Post that he never communicate with any one from Rolling Stone. Moreover, one of Erdely’s interviewee, Sandra Menendez, told CNN that Erdely interviewing others with an agenda. Erdely failed to be impartiality, objectivity, verification, as well as failed to distinguish the difference among literacy work, advocacy, and news reporting.

Conflicts between Rolling Stone and other independent information sources

Fraternity officials in UVA also had announced that there have never been an interview or investigation against its undergraduate members. Therefore, Erdely had been insensible of the fact that there was even no party at the night Jackie mentioned when she was raped, and the figure, “ringleader” of the rape, had been proved to have no matched member in the fraternity.  Moreover, the initial ritual was normally happens in spring term, but the story claimed that it happened in autumn, stated by fraternity’s officials.   

According to the code of ethic of journalists, a journalist should be impartial, have no prejudice towards or against any particular side of the story, but just to provide the truth and compete contexts for readers. Instead of creating biases, a journalist is usually supposed to introduce contradictory opinions from different groups and lead readers to think and debate critically over the issue. However, Erdely, at the beginning of the article, shaped an innocent freshmen image for Jackie by emphasizing “the University of Virginia freshman wasn’t a drinker” and identifying Jackie as “a chatty, straight-A achiever from a rural Virginia town”. In contrast, she mentioned “Drew”, on of the later gang rape criminals, as a handsome playboy. In this way, Erdely successfully draw people’s favoritism towards Jackie at the early beginning. At the school level, Erdely showed no related effort conducted by UVA, but all negative information without solidary evidence. Again, by using the art of language, she counter-posed the outstanding reputation and educational fame and the rape happened in 2012. People generally like to hear negative information of outstanding individuals and organizations, Erdely, obviously, is really good at writing what people likes to read. However, a journalist should never cater public interest at the cost of reality.

A journalist should also responsible for presenting the whole context without perceived anger or preference. May be annoyed by Jackie’s story, Erdely always targeting on UVA and the fraternity in the following pages. While more independent voices are needed, Erdely merely shows opinions of the victims, ignoring the possible effort made by the school and Jackie’s college friends. Erdely do revealed some of the reality of the authorities idea that school have more interest to money than their students’ security, though school always like to pretend they would protect their students as their children. This is the normal case of American University, many researches and investigations have illustrated that universities and colleges usually found them in the dilemma of being justice or being rich, as the majority of universities funds comes from families of members in fraternities. However, that might not true for UVA, and the rate reported in UVA by Erdel下y was lack for authority and tend to be segments. At least, she did not quote recent scientific or reliable data and researches to show the reality to the reader rather than using “frightening” rape cases occurred in 1980s to 1990s to exaggerate how terrible UVA is currently. According one of UVA’s students who thought Jackie’s story was true, he held the opinion that Erdely and Rolling Stone should not direct their anger to UVA but rather the fraternity, it simply twisted the wrongdoing of fraternity to the wrongdoing of the UVA. The UVA has paid tremendous attention to fight against sexual assault and to provide treatment for victims. However, the article deliberately chose certain information against UVA did not revealed the real life in UVA, nor mentioned what she was trying to do. On the Media, based on an interview with journalist Caitlin Flanagan, reported that Erdely inhibited the recent transformation of Greek system but utilized the system and regulation what was actually the case of 30 years ago.

Two rapes occurred in January 27, 2015 in Vanderbilt University involving two football players brought more questions to Rolling Stone and Erdely. This time they did not deliver any report on this issue. Richard Bradley, the first mainstream journalist, questioned the Rolling Stone that “ Is Vanderbilt just not as sexy as UVA?” This might be the suspicion that many people would have, as Vanderbilt is not so famous as UVA, involving much less people and not so tragic.

The outlet of Rolling Stone was the result of interplay of many variables. The reporter did not collect diversified opinion to promise the objectivity and impartiality of the article. Moreover, driven by inner prejudice or the eager to draw publicity, the writer overstated the real occasion in UVA, namely, the reporter had a pre-set agenda or intention to write the paper. Hence, the following supporting materials she mentioned were all on the purpose of supporting her intention rather than for reality. The editor also should be accused of allowing report that divergent greatly from truth to be published.

Conclusion

In conclusion, as the topic itself is sensitive to ethic problems, it is of more significance for reporters to report following the code of ethic for journalists. A qualified and accountable reporter should be objective and impartiality, involving diversified opinion from people in different standpoint to present a comprehensive context of the issue. They are asked to be credible, accountable and independent, and to avoid any distortion to reality. However, Rolling Stone failed in all of these important principles. It published information without fact checking, reporting news with no objectivity but aiming at adapt reality to their prejudice. Moreover, when journalists are asked not to violate interviewee’s privacy without reasons, they refused accuser’s requirement and twisted or fabricated information provided by interviewees.

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