Der Spiegel Admits Top Reporter Faked Stories for Years

April FrancisDec 21, 2018

So far, at least 14 stories out of nearly 60 pieces the journalist wrote for Der Spiegel's print and online editions turned out to contain fake details, the magazine said, adding that that figure might potentially be higher, and warning that other media outlets might also be affected.

Several major features nominated or winning awards are among the articles in question, including "Number 440", about prisoners at Guantanamo Bay that was named Deutscher Reporterpreis story of the year in 2016.

Relotius, 33, started working at Der Spiegel in 2011 as a freelancer but became staff a year and a half ago.

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.

The publication said concerns were first raised in November by a fellow reporter who worked with Relotius on a story about a border militia in Arizona and discovered that supposed interviews had never taken place.

On Monday, Michele Anderson and Jake Krohn published "Der Spiegel journalist messed with the wrong small town", an English-language debunking of "Where they pray for Trump on Sundays", a Relotius hit piece about their town of Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

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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 now have to allow myself be helped", Relotius told Der Spiegel in his confession. 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.

"It wasn't because of the next big thing".

That's especially true for Spiegel reporter Relotius who mostly wrote about people living overseas and without access to the German magazine. "Claas Relotius faked, he cheated on us all".

"All (his) colleagues are deeply shattered", the magazine wrote. "[His] colleagues are astounded and sad ... the affair feels like a death in the family". Meanwhile, the magazine's management has set up a special investigative commission consisting of what it calls "experienced internal and external persons" to look through all of the journalist's pieces and prepare recommendations to improve "safety mechanisms".

Der Spiegel, which apologized to anyone who was inaccurately portrayed in their writer's stories, announced that a committee would investigate the fraud.

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