Story Structure, Responsibility, and Sexual Assault

Rolling Stone’s original report on Jackie’s rape case at The University of Virginia was highly disturbing as well as it was impacting. I think that the most important tool it used in keeping reader engagement while also delivering important facts was that it found a powerful representative story that spanned for years and used it as a spine to deliver a larger story on sexual assault on college campuses. Jackie’s story had many points of inner conflict that served as points of relation for similar stories and statistical analysis on UV’s assault record and political neglect of assault. I think that this article is engaging because we continue to want to know about Jackie’s story even when we get pulled away from it by bigger information that contextualizes her story within a campus to country-wide problem. As readers, did you feel that the story balanced the spine with the information well, or do you think it could have been handled better? Was there too much spine and not enough background? Too much background and not enough spine?

On another note, I think it is important to inquire as to what Rolling Stone had to lose by publishing this story. Do you think the stakes of delivering such secretes were high for them? Do you think they had stock holders or executives with connections to UV? If UV has such a powerful alumni base, do you think the magazine faced unwarranted backlash? How much should we expect periodicals to look out for their own interests versus delivering important truths to their readers?

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One Response to “Story Structure, Responsibility, and Sexual Assault”

  1. I think that when you work in the media, especially for a well-known news source such as Rolling Stone, it is absolutely essential to put all personal relations aside and focus solely on delivering facts. Oftentimes, these facts will not put someone or something in the best light – seen in the Rolling Stone article with the UV fraternities. The media is not able to please everyone – if it were, it would be doing everyone a disservice and delivering twisted stories.

    I’m sure that many news distributors sometimes decide against publishing a certain piece because it goes against a big investor and/or supporter. From a business standpoint, this obviously makes sense. I think that news sources often have to weigh the pros and cons – is publishing this piece worth the lash that is going to come back at us? Are we able to afford it? These are all good and important questions that news sources most likely have to ask in order to stay up and running.

    Then again, Rolling Stone is such a prominent company that I’m not sure if they would ask these questions. Rolling Stone has many investors. If UV happens to be one of them, I’m sure that they could suffer the loss without it doing much damage. A smaller news source that was supported by UV, however, would not be able to.

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