Spiegel reporter admits faking stories

The prize-winning German journalist Claas Relotius has admitted that he committed systematic fraud in his reportages. Many of the scenes, persons and conversations in his pieces were simply invented, he has confessed. The news magazine Der Spiegel, where Relotius worked as an editor, has made the case public. Europe's journalists voice concern about the news industry's reputation in these times when accusations of fake news are rife.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Not just Der Spiegel has a problem

The case must be dealt with swiftly and thoroughly, the Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“This is the only way the media sector can counter the unfair and even slanderous accusation that his case is typical of the media sector in general. Readers deserve answers to their questions: where did the desk editors, the proofreaders, and the fact checkers slip up? Did Relotius's colleagues knowingly or unwittingly aid and abet his deeds? Is the journalistic award-based aura of reporters like Relotius part of the problem? Many of these issues extend beyond Der Spiegel magazine. For the moment this case is a lose-lose situation. But if the editors can find answers and explain them to their readers, this could bring journalism a step forward.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Media must rebuild trust

The scandal at Spiegel magazine could put the whole industry in a bad light, fears Helsingin Sanomat:

“The media are in a difficult situation: how can they make sure that this kind of thing can't happen to them and convey this to their readers? In times when 'fake news' has been chosen as the word of the year, the Spiegel scandal is a heavy blow for journalism all over Europe. ... It would be arrogant to dismiss the Relotius case as an isolated incident. Instead the papers and other media must be more transparent and precise about their approach, how their stories are created and how their journalists are supervised. They must be informed that no one publishes anything alone. Articles are checked, edited and any weak points are corrected. The rest, however, is all about trust.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Less sensationalism, more substance

Journalists should concentration once more on what's essential, writes Tages-Anzeiger:

“Newspaper publishers, senior editors and the jurys which judge journalistic awards are partially responsible both within editing departments and across the industry for driving journalists to go beyond the limits of their integrity. Readers won't miss anything if in the future some reports are less sensational but one hundred percent trustworthy. Reality will remain spectacular enough. And perhaps in future more journalist prizes will be awarded for what is the highest goal in our profession: solid work.”