Blog: The Educated Reporter

Follow-Up Friday: Rolling Stone’s Retraction, Recipe for Common Core Math

The rotunda at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. (Flickr/Bob Mical/Creative Commons)

Rolling Stone retracted its story that supposedly detailed a University of Virginia student’s brutal rape by several members of a campus fraternity, and a report by the Columbia University Journalism School called the debacle “a journalistic failure.” 

The report by  – conducted at the request of Rolling Stone — found that basic tenets of good journalism were ignored in the reporting of the story, and that the magazine’s editors should have done more to verify writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s account. Among the massive failures allowed by the editors: She apparently relied entirely on the word of the alleged victim “Jackie” and did not contact the alleged attackers. (You can read the entire 10,000-word report here.)

The fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, is planning legal action. But that could be a tough case to prove, media law experts have said. 


Over at Vox, Libby Nelson takes the cake when it comes explaining how the Common Core changes the way students learn math. (Watch the three-minute video for more on the recipe.)

While it’s highly entertaining, the Vox approach is also a smart way to handle a frequent challenge reporters face: clearly, and quickly, breaking down how the new standards are impacting classroom learning. For another take, read our writeup from the presentation Elizabeth Green of Chalkbeat made at our fall seminar on the teaching profession. Also, from that Detroit  seminar, Deborah Loewenberg Ball, the dean of the University of Michigan School of Education, showed us why it’s as important to understand why students get the wrong answers in their math calculations as it is to teach them to figure out the correct responses. 


As you plan your weekend reading, add Brooke Lea Foster’s takeout on being poor at an Ivy League school for the Boston Globe magazine. It’s both affecting and effective journalism. For example, it highlights Harvard University student Ana Barros talking about making the transition from low-income housing to a campus where money is rarely a day-to-day concern for her classmates:

During her freshman and sophomore years, Barros hesitated to speak in class because she often mispronounced words — she knew what they meant from her own reading, but she hadn’t said many aloud before, and if she had, there had been no one to correct her. Friends paired off quickly. “You’d get weeded out of friendships based on what you could afford. If someone said let’s go to the Square for dinner and see a movie, you’d move on,” she says.

We’ll be talking about challenges low-income college students face at EWA’s 68th National Seminar in Chicago, which kicks off April 20. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing guest blog posts, podcasts and videos from the sessions.