False Stories a Trend in December
Every time a reported story turns out to be false, the public loses its faith in the press. Case in point, in the past month, two stories reported from credible outlets turned out to be riddled with inconsistencies or completely fabricated.
Rolling Stone recently published an article about a gang rape that occurred on the University of Virginia campus. The story was wrought with inconsistencies of the alleged attack by both the victim and her friends that she confided in. The journalist also neglected to interview the fraternity members of the house, where the attack allegedly took place, or the men accused of the heinous crime. The story has been slammed by many and Rolling Stone’s editor has admitted that the story has discrepancies but has yet to retract the piece.
Last week, New York Magazine ran a story about a high school senior who has made more than $72 million trading stocks. The student claimed his net worth was in the high eight figures. The student produced a document from his bank attesting to the eight-figure account. New York Magazine published the head-turning story. The student has since come forward and admitted that the story was made up and the statements that he provided were falsified. The editor of New York Magazine said in a statement, “We were duped. Our fact-checking process was obviously inadequate; we take full responsibility and we should have known better. New York apologizes to our readers.”
Journalists are taught to question, research and unbiasedly report. These are the building blocks of communication and affects the public relations industry as much as the media industry. When reporters become too eager to be the first on the story, it takes away from the importance of the job and tramples on the industry’s code of ethics: seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable and transparent.