Essentially this report provides us with the reasoning behind what was reported in the story, as well as the flaws and other methods the reporter and others involved could have used.
One of the bigger issues from all of the backlash this story has received is that Erdely was “blamed” for the misinformation and inaccurate reporting. While she did have responsibilities that she did not uphold, the editors and fact-checkers also had roles in this publication that they did not perform to their best abilities.
When reporting any story, but especially serious ones such as this one, it is important to recognize what is actually true. Erdely made the mistake of not talking to the three friends of Jackie, who could have provided some validation or told her what was and wasn’t true about Jackie’s story.
Erdely also gave Jackie more control than necessary. Perhaps if she’d pushed Jackie to share certain things, such as the lifeguard’s real name, the story would have been more reliable. But as is, because there were so many holes it is hard to say whether or not the story had much truth.
This story used several pseudonyms, which are okay in some cases, but with this story it made the account seem false or exaggerated. There is debate whether Rolling Stone should continue to use pseudonyms as much as they do currently.
This story was important to share, but unfortunately we don’t know if it’s true. Likely it is, because many attested that something happened to Jackie that night, but it is unknown exactly how the incident transpired.