Columbia Journalism School Dean: Rolling Stone Story Highlights Failures “As A Profession In Reporting On Sexual Violence”

Columbia's Steve Coll: “We Have Got To Have A Conversation Amongst Ourselves To Figure Out How To Get Better.”

From the April 6 press conference at Columbia Journalism School:

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STEVE COLL, DEAN OF THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM: I think, we are particularly focused in the report on the idea that it would be a really unfortunate outcome if journalists backed away from doing this kind of reporting as a result of this highly visible failure. Because this is important work, and it's hard work. That's not to make an excuse for this failure, but this kind of reporting environment, this kind of subject, is, you know, it's a new frontier for serious accountability journalism. There are a lot of individuals and and a lot of institutions out there that seek not to be held accountable for allegations of sexual violence that are underdeveloped. This is before the police have gotten to the case, this is before a prosecutor has evaluated. So that's a space where journalism normally functions. But I think there is a context here which is our record as a profession in reporting on sexual violence is not great. And this is an area where we have got to have a conversation amongst ourselves to figure out how to get better. Because it's important work.

SHEILA CORONEL, DEAN OF ACADEMIC AFFAIRS: I agree there. The Rolling Stone story shows us how to move forward on this very fraught issue of reporting on campus rape. And it is useful to us, as individual journalists and as a profession to reflect on this. It's a very useful case on how to report, with sensitivity, about victims of sexual assault, while also verifying and corroborating the information that they provide.


Rolling Stone and UVA: The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Report