Der Spiegel Star Reporter Wrote Fake Stories ‘On a Grand Scale’

A top European news magazine has fired one of its star journalists after discovering that he had fabricated facts and sources in more than a dozen articles over a seven-year period, CNN informs.

“Claas Relotius, a reporter and editor, falsified his articles on a grand scale and even invented characters, deceiving both readers and his colleagues,” Germany’s Der Spiegel said in an article.

The revelation represents a heavy blow for Der Spiegel, a 71-year-old publication that’s renowned for its quality journalism and read by hundreds of thousands of people in print and by millions online. “I’m so angry, horrified, shocked, stunned. Claas Relotius faked, he cheated all of us,” the magazine’s deputy foreign editor Mathieu von Rohr tweeted.

After a colleague working with Relotius on a story in the United States flagged suspicions about his reporting, Der Spiegel says it carried out an internal investigation.

Last week, the journalist confessed that he invented entire passages for that article, and also falsified information in other stories, the magazine said.

His work had received awards from CNN, but a CNN spokesperson said that Relotius was not associated with CNN, “never worked for the company and never had anything published on CNN platforms.”

Relotius, who joined the publication as a freelancer in 2011, told the magazine he regretted his actions and was deeply ashamed, BBC writes.

Der Spiegel said the 33-year-old admitted to partial fabrications in at least 14 of nearly 60 articles he wrote for its magazine and website – including making up dialogue and quotes and creating composite characters. The magazine warned that the number could be higher, and that other news organizations could be affected, CNN adds.

Relotius has published stories in other leading German-language publications, including Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, the Financial Times Deutschland, Die Welt and Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, according to Der Spiegel.

Forbes identified Relotius as a top reporter last year, including him on a “30 Under 30” list for European media. Several major features Relotius wrote for Der Spiegel that were also nominated for or won journalism awards are now under scrutiny, according to the magazine.

Among them were stories such as “The Last Witness”, about an American who allegedly travels to an execution as a witness; “Lion Children” about two Iraqi children who have been kidnapped and reeducated by the Islamic State; and “Number 440”, a feature about alleged prisoners at the US detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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