'Mental Illness' Story Gone Wrong at The Michigan Daily, Newspaper apologiz

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Clearly excited about joining the track team at Penn, Madison Holleran joked next to this picture of all of her Penn gear. "Soo I may or may not go to Penn #xc" (Credit MaddyHolleran Instagram)

The Michigan Daily issued one heck of a retraction and apology for an article about mental illness. The article included incorrect information about Madison Holleran, a University of Pennsylvania freshman who police say died last month by suicide.

The Michigan Daily is the University of Michigan’s campus newspaper.

Some of the errors in the article include a “misattributed’ quotation and wrongly stating that Holleran “struggled with the disorder since high school,” according to the retraction. The article wasn’t written by a Michigan Daily staff member, but was submitted by a sophomore at the university, Linh Vu. For example, Vu confused Holleran’s mother, who hasn’t made public statements about Holleran’s death, with another student athlete’s mother.

According to the Michigan Daily retraction, the article was written for the newspaper’s “Viewpoints,” which “can be written by anyone in the campus community.”

While the Feb. 2 article in question, “Viewpoint: Treating mental illness like a wound,” has been unpublished, it was available to iMediaEthics by a Google cache.

The article is about a friend of Vu’s who died by suicide and the general issue of suicide. Vu goes on to mention Holleran’s death and information about her life, as well as national statistics on depression and stress.

The newspaper was transparent in its retraction by detailing what was wrong with the story — largely errors.  It also offered full apologies to Holleran’s family. The retraction says:

The Michigan Daily expresses its sincerest apologies for this mistake. We regret any pain or anger that we have caused to Madison Holleran’s family and friends.

“Madison Holleran’s passing deserved to be treated with the utmost respect and care, and The Michigan Daily failed to provide an accurate account of her life, struggle with depression and the due diligence that our community deserves.”

The newspaper added that it plans to apply “stronger scrutiny” to reader-submitted articles.

iMediaEthics has written to Michigan Daily’s editor asking for more information about the retraction, if Holleran’s family complained, and how the newspaper will prevent future issues in its “Viewpoints” articles. We’ll update with any response.

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‘Mental Illness’ Story Gone Wrong at The Michigan Daily, Newspaper apologizes, retracts

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