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April 06, 2015

Steve Coll is a Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist and dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. (Flickr) 

Steve Coll, the dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, has published a comprehensive report on a Rolling Stone story about a brutal gang rape at the University of Virginia. The report finds the magazine fell short on multiple counts, citing faulty reporting, editing and fact checking.

According to the report, Rolling Stone failed to engage in “basic, even routine journalistic practice” in reporting on an alleged rape case at UVA.

Read the full report here.

Related: A Textbook Case of How Not to Practice Journalism

In a statement released Sunday night, UVA President Teresa Sullivan said the article did nothing to combat sexual violence and damaged efforts to address the issue. Sullivan said the story portrayed university staff members as manipulative and callous toward victims.

Following this damning indictment, Rolling Stone decided to retract its article on rape at UVA. Now some sexual assault activists worry that the magazine’s retraction will discourage other women from coming forward with their accounts of sexual violence.

On Monday's broadcast of the PBS NewsHour, Coll discussed how Rolling Stone got the UVA sexual assault story so wrong.

"It was a collective failure and an avoidable failure," Coll said.

It’s a bad day for journalism, but Columbia and other colleges and universities are hoping the 12,000-word report shows why journalism schools still matter today.

Columbia recently revamped its curriculum to meet workforce demands, and last May WGBH's On Campus sat down with Coll to talk about the shifting role of journalism schools in the fast-changing digital era.

"It's not about restructuring to get from point A to point B. You have to recognize that you're going to be in motion. You're going to be adapting continuously," Coll said. "Always in the history of journalism education, and especially now, it's been necessary to synthesize the teaching of enduring values, ethics, practices, skills, like reporting, interviewing, writing with critical thinking about what matters, what's a story, why is it a story."

Listen to the full interview:

Journalism, increasing access and success, sexual assault, Rolling Stone, columbia, steve coll

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