Agus Lenyot

Learn from Rolling Stone Article

Posted in Jurnalisme by Wayan Agus Purnomo on April 20, 2015

Rolling Stone’s article about rape in campus realized us that how important to critical our anonymous resources. Even, they were reliable sources or closed friends. A Rolling Stone reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely wrote an article, A Rape on Campus. This story told about gangbang rape befall a student was called Jackie, just Jackie, without her last name. Jackie told Erdely that she was raped by many students after the party in fraternity house called Phi Kappa Psi.

This article was amazing story, about faced rape brutally. Ederly believed in her and forgot to crosscheck to other sources that was mentioned by Jackie, people who was accused as a rapist. Immediately, Rolling Stone realized that this article infringes a standard procedure in journalism: verification. And then they asked Columbia Journalism School to investigating the making process of this article. Eventually, Rolling Stone acknowledge that this story was hoax, which was being recorded as new scandal in America’s history journalism.

This is not the first time a media in America reported hoax stuff. Long before this article, there was faked story that which known as Jimmy’s World, written by Leslie Cooke, The Washington Post reporter. This article that achieved Pulitzer Prize in 1981 was fictive. Jimmy’s World told about a young boy fall on drug addiction. In his arm filled with puncture.

A day after this article was issued, The Washington Post got many telephone from their reader, include the government authority, that convey sympathy to him. They were urged to open identity of who was the young boy truthfully. The problem became clear after her editor forced Cooke. She was recessive and acknowledged that her article wasn’t true. Immediately after this lie uncovered, The Washington Post apologized to the reader. Cooke said why she created hoax because the pressure from her editor.

In America, Cooke was not alone. Then, there was Stephen Glass, reporter The New Republic, whose stories, packed with amazing and dead on detail, seemed too good to be true. He will be remembered as journalists that corroborate a fabrication story. And then there was Jayson Blair; reporter The New York Times has entangled a hoax article. He destroyed his carrier in amazing untruth of outright fiction.

Journalist and lie is the two things that can be walk concurrently. Journalist is professions that assert honesty in get information and then cultivate to a good story. A liar journalist with his stuff could be called doing a felony. Include, the big result that can be produced by their liar. What is it? Public interest.

But the problem, how long the liar was doing by journalist?

Today, we know there are too many mass media and journalist, of course. In the mid of this problem, get an exclusive information is a challenging for a journalist. How to get exclusive information if journalists just get stuff from doorstop in the crowd? Journalist will just get same information, moreover they exchange transcript interview with the others. In addition, demands to produce exclusive things always come from their editor every time.

A Good journalist never feels satisfy with information that they get from doorstop interview. That information tends to common, normative, and there aren’t new things that can public received. Whereas, public want to know more than just statement. They want story behind the scene. In that point, to find a source those give journalist a good story become challenge, especially case that worthy to be investigated. But the problem they don’t want to be mentioned, commonly. They just want to be anonymous, like Jimmy’s World article.

The question is how to check information that comes from anonymous? The key for journalism is verification and still critical, even for reliable sources. Moreover they want to anonymous. Bill Kovach, in his book, has given guidelines for journalist about anonymous criteria. But these are too rigid and too difficult for journalist to deal with it. How long journalists give tolerance for anonymous criteria?

Using an anonymous isn’t forbidden, of course with fulfilling many criteria. Like, they are the people who watching or listening an occurrence and not only one sources. How about if there is just one sources? They must could tell about detail like time, sitting position, conversation content and many things that relevant with the fact. It is better if the witnesses from anonymous were supported by document or recording, that honestly, is difficult to find.

How about if the people that mentioned by anonymous decline about the occurrence? That means the journalist finds contradictive fact. In this time, credibility of journalist will be staked, to believe in their sources or declining from the opponent. Journalist’s conviction will be tested. If too believe in the sources, it isn’t impossible journalist would get a liar like Rolling Stone’s reporter. Of course, they can’t no forget to verify each fact, which can be split.

So, the key for journalist is never ending verification.

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