Bad journalism can have bad results. That’s especially true when bad journalism spins a narrative designed to amplify preconceived stereotypes. Take a bias, write an article that inflames the bias, and watch the world burn.
That is essentially what happened at Rolling Stone magazine when one of its reporters wrote a gut-wrenching article about an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house on the campus of the elite University of Virginia.
According to the original article, a young woman was raped by seven men on the floor of a campus fraternity house amid broken shards of glass. The incident was supposedly some kind of frat initiation ritual. Making matters worse, the story alleged that UVA often ignored many reports of sexual assaults on campus.
The outcry was immediate. UVA banned all fraternities from hosting any events. Protest marches on campus and other locations complained about sexual assaults on college campuses across the nation. Congressmen and other political leaders jumped on the wave of protest (and used it to pad an ongoing controversy over sexual assaults in the military.)
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