"A Rape on Campus," published by the Rolling Stone magazine in November of 2014 and written by Sabrina Erdely, centered around an alleged rape survivor’s account of a horrific gang rape at the University of Virginia. In an effort to encapsulate the “pervasive culture of sexual harassment/rape culture,” Erdely, and the Rolling Stone staff, failed to ethically compose a news article (Coronel, Coll, Kravitz 2015). The story ended up being false, and instead, they were successfully sued for libel with malice for knowingly posting a potentially false article in which they depicted and named an administrator, Nicole Eramo, as discouraging the survivor to contact the police.
This story portrayed an instance in which the news industry was sued for defamation of a public official, something not covered by the First Amendment. Though the press has the authority to publish freely, they are not able to publish falsely. They are also not able to publish words inciting violence or obscenity. In the class discussion, I received a response regarding other potential outcomes resulting from such a large news magazine posting a false story. We concluded that this type of story could potentially spread the misconception that most rape allegations are false.
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