German news outlet Der Spiegel announced it had sacked award-winning reporter Claas Relotius on Wednesday for making up sources and inventing facts. Moreno also reported his concerns to DER SPIEGEL.
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.
After initially denying the allegations, Relotius confessed last week to inventing entire passages of text in several instances, Der Spiegel says. Claas Relotius paints pictures in the reader's mind that unfold like a film, ' said Franz Fischlin, chairman of the judging panel.
He has written some 60 articles for the magazine, many of which he has said are accurate. For example, he included individuals in his stories who he had never met or spoken to, telling their stories or quoting them. "The rest is uninhibited fiction (even as sloppy as citing an incorrect figure of citywide 70.4% electoral support for Trump, when the actual number was 62.6%), which begs the question of why Der Spiegel even invested in Relotius' three week trip to the USA", wrote Fergus Falls resident Michele Anderson in the Medium article. He also made up dialogue and quotes. Could that figure actually be considerably higher?
Among the articles in question are major features that have been nominated for or won journalism awards.
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Moreno who has worked for the magazine since 2007 risked his own job when he confronted other colleagues with his suspicions, many of whom did not want to believe him.
Relotius also recounts a number of events that never occurred, including an an iPad for Beginners class at City Hall, a Super Bowl viewing at Union Pizza, a "Western evening" (allegedly attended by Maria and the fictional Neil), and a high school trip to NY.
The reporter also wrote for a string of other well-known outlets, including the German newspapers taz, Welt and the Frankfurter Allgemeine's Sunday edition.
"I'm so angry, horrified, shocked, stunned", Der Spiegel deputy foreign editor Mathieu von Rohr tweeted Wednesday.
The piece that proved to be his "undoing" and exposed seven years of "large scale journalistic fraud" was his report on "Jaeger's Border", which focused on a group in Arizona conducting patrols along the border to Mexico. 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".