Der Spiegel's star reporter 'faked stories' for years

21 December, 2018, 00:49 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

Der Spiegel said on Wednesday that reporter and editor Claas Relotius "falsified his articles on a grand scale and even invented characters, deceiving both readers and his colleagues". The magazine said it has published nearly 60 articles by Relotius, who wrote his first article for the publication as a freelancer in 2011.

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. Relotius, who is 33 years old and started writing for Der Spiegel in 2011, was not available for comment.

When one of Germany's most trusted publications, Der Spiegel, pushed out a news alert Wednesday, the subject was its own failing: The magazine revealed that one of its star reporters, Claas Relotius, likely embellished his coverage and allegedly fabricated entire events for years before resigning on Monday.

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.

Relotius initially tried to protect himself by producing fraudulent proof but as the evidence against him mounted, he eventually admitted his deceit.


"I am sick and I need to get help", he reportedly told the magazine.

Der Spiegel's editor in chief, Ullrich Fichtner, described internal reactions using the words "shock", "sadness", and "appalling", and wrote that the incident constituted the "low point in the 70-year history of Spiegel".

The magazine said Relotius resigned Monday after admitting some of his articles included made-up material from interviews that never happened. Some of the reports, they found, were nothing more than "concocted bunk". "DER SPIEGEL will also report publicly on their findings and recommendations for improving safety mechanisms". Relotius worked as a freelancer for years, writing for several outlets in Germany and overseas. During his time as a freelance journalist, his work got published by other media including Cicero, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag, the Financial Times Deutschland, Die Tageszeitung, Die Welt, Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, Weltwoche, Zeit Online and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

In a statement to The Associated Press, CNN International said the independent panel of judges who awarded Claas Relotius the Journalist of the Year and Print Journalist of the Year awards four years ago decided unanimously to remove them following revelations about his fraud.

"All [his] colleagues are deeply shattered", the magazine wrote.

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