Ethics, Journalistic Integrity and Rape

I can very vividly remember when ‘A Rape on Campus’ was published by Rolling Stone. It was a heartbreaking read on what can go wrong when you’re raped on a college campus. When I read it, I found myself feeling sympathetic for the victim and frightened for others who might have faced her same fate. But then, the story changed, the details became fuzzy and the story fell apart.

If you haven’t read ‘A Rape on Campus,’ you may be out of luck. I tried to find the original article online and wasn’t able to (I might also be too tired to do any thorough digging.) What it’s replaced with now is a report, Rolling Stone and UVA: The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Report.’

If you have any interest in journalism or journalistic integrity, it’s a fascinating read that basically boils down to this: the writer of ‘A Rape on Campus’ invested too much trust in to her lone source. Had Sabrina Erdely pushed Jackie to confirm the details of her story, Erdely likely would have found out that Jackie’s story had quite a few holes. Instead, Erdely took her word for the whole narrative and ran with it. While this was a mistake that began with Erdely’s journalism practices, it didn’t end there. Her editors never pushed her to address the holes in Jackie’s story, to reach out to additional sources or to confront other possible witnesses.

Rolling Stone seems to have been rather swift in cleaning up their mess with the release of the outside report. Now, while it’s easy to put in to question their journalistic practices and code of ethics, it’s also easy to understand how they ended up in this debacle. As of this time, Sabrina Erdely will not be fired and will continue to write for Rolling Stone. I only hope that she will take her future articles more seriously than this one as it has done more harm than good.

When it Comes to Paper Towns

I mentioned last week that I was reading John Green’s Paper Towns. As of two days after that tidbit, I’ve finished it and just had forgotten to come back to you and write something about it. Though, if you followed me on Amazon (can you do that?), you would know that I had left it a scathing review under the initials ‘SB.’

Paper Towns was a relatively easy novel to work through. The writing was pretty simplistic and the plot was rather predictable. While I found myself liking the narrator, Quentin, I found myself hating his love interest, Margot. Seriously, this girl was about as narcissistic as a person can get.

If you’ve read Paper Towns and share a similar view point, I applaud you. If you read it and don’t share this perspective… How could you possibly not? Margot was not some mysterious girl living next door, setting the hearts of teenage boys aflutter. Instead, she was just a self-absorbed jerk. There’s really no better term for it.

So I don’t go off on a rant, I’ll stop there. Now I’m on to Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. I’ve made it to the halfway point of the book and can say already that it is a far better read than Paper Towns. Now, if I could just get my head out of other people’s books and into my own, things would be going much, much better and my bank account would be much, much happier.

Thoughts on Commuting

I’ve started a new job. Don’t worry though. It’s a job that involves hours upon hours of researching and writing whatever it is that pleases me most. To get to said job, I’ve had to conquer a twice daily obstacle known as the commute.

Granted, I’m lucky that my commute is quite picturesque and involves a twenty-minute ferry ride across Lake Champlain. No kidding, I spend forty-minutes a day, at least, floating on water and watching the mountains beam in the sunlight. But, I also spend it reading. Sometimes napping.

This week, I’ve spent my commute with Paper Towns. It’s a sweet book but nothing particularly amazing. I bought it less out of interest for the plot and more out of interest for who wrote it – John Green. I don’t know what it is about this guy but he just keeps hitting gold in the YA genre.

I have about two ferry rides left until I’ve gotten through Paper Towns. I’ll update again then and after that, it’s on to the next boat book.

A Reading List

Last year, my New Year’s Resolution was to keep track of everything I read. When I first came up with the idea, I thought it was perfect. Why wouldn’t I want to keep tracking of what I’m reading? Well, because I read a lot. After about ten weeks, keeping track become too tedious of a process and I gave up.

I came close to attempting my last year’s resolution (or maybe it’s a goal really?) this year. Then, somewhere between moving and visiting family, I forgot. This is probably okay because even sitting here, I can hardly remember exactly every thing that I have read this year. There are some exceptional novels that I’ve come across and quite a few memorable long form articles that I’ve taken care to bookmark for rereading but for the most part, every thing is a blur.

So, maybe there’s a better way to do this. A way that allows me to keep track without having to think about it. Or, at least a way that allows me not to think about it as much. Which leads me to keeping track of it here. Yes, here. For all to see!

I’ve already admitted that I can’t remember all that I’ve read this year. It’s been a few months since January and there have been many trips to the bookstore and many packages delivered from Amazon! Not to mention my late night forays on to Longreads. Instead, just to get started (but let’s be honest I’ll probably do this every time), I’ll share what I’ve read and enjoyed most recently.

Here goes book wise:

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness: I got lucky with this one. In the used section of Barnes & Noble, I found this book, brand new, for less than $2.00. I decided that even if I wasn’t totally attracted to the back cover synopsis, I shouldn’t pass up the deal. A new book for $2.00? Heck yes. I’m glad I sucked it up and bought it too because I finished it in less than 48 hours and found the prose to be absolutely beautiful and thoroughly inspiring.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: I came across this book in the unlikeliest of places – Walmart. While I was picking up milk. While some of the book seemed to drag on – mostly about the technical aspects of planes – it was overall an amazing read. It’s hard to deny Louis Zamperini the title of ‘role model’. I just wish the movie had done both this book and his life justice.

My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh: I’ve always been particularly interested in reading debut novels. I think they’re a great way to judge publishing trends and, if they do well, reading trends. I can’t remember where I came across My Sunshine Away but I’m glad that I did. There are so many lines in this book that just scream perfect prose. If I had any advice for M.O. Walsh though, it would be this: work on your endings. While a majority of the book was downright amazing, the ending left a lot to be desired.

And for those who enjoy long form:

The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous by Gabrielle Glaser: I come from a long line of Alcoholics Anonymous Members so this article resonated with me very deeply. I’ve sat in AA meetings both in and outside rehabilitation facilities and each meeting, I always found myself wondering if AA was really helping its members. This question became especially prevalent when most users I knew started to relapse. If you’re familiar with the tenants of AA, this is a good read that will certainly challenge whether or not AA is the proper way to treat addiction in the states.

Fixed Menu by Kevin Pang: I spent a few brief months studying nutrition in hopes of sharing my newfound wealth of knowledge with others. Reading this piece made me wish that I had continued my studies so that I could have finished and become some sort of activist, rallying people around more nutritious and tasteful foods in prison. I understand the argument that prisoners are those who have been found guilty of committing crimes but does that mean that they deserve nothing more than a few pieces of toast and some unidentifiable mush?

The Fugitive Heir by Fred Zeman: Alright, this one isn’t new but you can thank HBO for its republication. Robert Durst is a fascinating, albeit frightening character and this piece will explain why. It shows you how much of an impact money can have on someone’s personality and actions. I mean, really, who gets away with murdering and dismembering a close friend?  A person who can afford not one but two very highly regarded and expensive criminal defense lawyers – that’s who.

Of course, I’ve read much more than this over the course of the last three months. These are all things that just happen to stick out when I decided to get going on this. But, there you have it. Naturally, now, I have to ask – what have you been reading?