Home Media German Magazine sacks 'award winning' journalist who invented stories, when will Indian media follow suit

German Magazine sacks ‘award winning’ journalist who invented stories, when will Indian media follow suit

Class Relotius has won several awards, including CNN's Journalist of the Year in 2014 and Germany's Reporterpreis award earlier this month.

Der Spiegel, a reputed German news magazine has sacked one of its top journalists, Claas Relotius, for ‘inventing protagonists and faking stories’. According to reports, the magazine has stated that Relotius has faked news articles for nearly seven years that he has worked with them.

The magazine has reportedly informed that Relotius has used fake stories and data for 14 of the 60 articles which appeared in both print and digital media.

Relotius is one of Spiegel’s celebrated journalists. In 2014, he was given the ‘Journalist of The Year’ award by CNN. Relotius has reportedly admitted the fraud.

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As per reports, Der Spiegel has stated that Relotius has falsified articles on a grand scale. Some of the fake quotes and fabricated details were even used in features that were nominated or have won awards. The attention of the magazine’s administration was drawn to possible fraud after another staff reporter who was working with Relotius on an assignment raised suspicion about his work.

Der Spiegel has also stated that they are still working to establish the full extent of fabrications that have been committed in their published stories by Relotius.

Relotius, 33, has reportedly admitted last week that he has ‘invented’ entire passages of texts in several instances. He has also admitted to falsely quoting individuals he has never met in several of his reports. Relotius confirmed to Der Spiegel that he had committed the fraud ‘intentionally’ and ‘methodically’.

It is notable here that just earlier this month, Relotius had won the German ‘Reporterpreis’ (Reporter of the year) award for his story about a Syrian boy. The Guardian has reported that most of the details in the story were hazy and it was revealed later that most of the story was made up.

One of Relotius’ colleague had flagged his doubts about his methods earlier for an article on the US-Mexico border titled as ‘Hunter’s Border’. The colleague, Juan Moreno, reportedly tracked down some of the people quoted in Relotius’ article who said that they have never met him and never said the things he has attributed to them in the article.

Der Spiegel, which sells 750,000 printed copies a month and has an online readership base of over 6.5 million people, has also risked a major setback by the revelation of Relotius’ fraud. It has issued apologies to its readers and stated that Relotius’s fabrications have been a ‘low point’ in their 70-year old history and an in-house investigative commission has been set up to examine the full extent of the fake stories.

After several weeks of denial and confrontation, Class Relotius had, finally admitted to the fraud and stated, “I am sick, I need to get help”.

In India, it is often seen that several of our ‘award-winning’ and celebrated journalists not only spread fake news based on half-baked assumptions but also blatantly ignore ground facts and peddle their own narratives. Many such self-proclaimed journalists, whose fake narratives have been busted time and again, are even celebrated in their circle of biased media houses and given awards and book contracts to further establish their ‘credentials’.

There are names in Indian media who claim just about anything attributing to ‘sources’. There are also some who do not even bother to attribute their claim to sources and base their ‘stories’ on pure imagination. In fact, many netizens have raised suspicion that the propaganda website AltNews creates fake news themselves to later ‘bust’ them.

Sadly, in India, such ‘journalism’ has become the accepted norm for the mainstream media.

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