Sunday, 18 August, 2019

Award winning German reporter sacked over 'invented' reports

Claas Relotius YouTube Freitag Claas Relotius resigned from Der Spiegel after faking stories
Patty Aguilar | 23 December, 2018, 08:34

Claas Relotius was a top reporter at the German news magazine Der Spiegel before he was forced to resign after it was discovered he had falsified his stories for years.

Some of the roughly 60 stories Relotius had written since 2011 were accurate but others were "completely invented or embellished with manipulated quotes or other fact-fantasy", it said.

The falsehoods in the article begin with his claim that the town is near "a dark forest that looks like dragons live in it" (it's on a prairie) and that visitors are greeted by a sign reading: "Welcome to Fergus Falls, home of d-mn good folks" (a photo shows the sign says nothing about the folks). Relotius alleged he had interviewed the boy via WhatsApp.

A Washington, D.C., correspondent with Der Spiegel is coming to town for a shot at redemption, Schierer said, and to write a factual story on Fergus Falls. No staff member - especially not one that had published the kind of stories Relotius had - has to worry about getting into hot water for failing to bring home a story, ' the magazine said.

That's especially true for Spiegel reporter Relotius who mostly wrote about people living overseas and without access to the German magazine. To add to his "racist America" narrative, Relotius invented a "Mexicans Keep Out" sign.

But while the fact-checking efforts of Spiegel and other publications with a high output may spot spelling mistakes or inaccuracies, they aren't created to catch deliberate fabrications, Graves said.

'Relotius gave the inhabitants of Fergus Falls made-up biographies to suit his needs, as if he were a puppeteer. "One class drew Barack Obama, two drew John D. Rockefeller".

Although these two most-publicized stories purport to expose how immigrants and minority families suffer in Trump's America, the fabrications occasionally further a larger anti-American narrative.

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According to the magazine, it was all "pure fiction".

[Claas Relotius] resigned after admitting to the scam.

Relotius, who had previously been awarded CNN's "Journalist of the Year" award, said he was "sick" and "needed help".

His deception was uncovered by one of his colleagues, Juan Moreno, who worked with him last month on an article about a group of American vigilantes patrolling the US-Mexico border. For example, he included individuals in his stories who he had never met or spoken to, telling their stories or quoting them.

The fabricated articles include a phone interview with the parents of free agent National Football League player Colin Kaepernick and a story about an American woman who claims to have volunteered to witness the executions of death row inmates.

It also described the situation as "a low point in Der Spiegel's 70-year history".

A commission is now reviewing all of Relotius's work including during his years as a freelancer, when he wrote for many respected German and Swiss newspapers.

In a lengthy article which serves as both a clarification of the case and an apology, Der Spiegel said it was "shocked" by the discovery and offered an apology to its readers along with all those affected by Relotius' articles.

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