Accuracy in Media

A 2014 winner of CNN’s Journalist of the Year award was just outed for fake news reporting over a period of multiple years.

“Claas Relotius, a reporter and editor, falsified his articles on a grand scale and even invented characters, deceiving both readers and his colleagues,” German media outlet Der Spiegel said in a statement. “This has been uncovered as a result of tips, internal research and, ultimately, a comprehensive confession by the editor himself.”

In 2014, CNN published a photo of Relotius on its website, with his CNN award and the caption, “Claas Relotius was named CNN Journalist of the Year and won the best Print category for the story ‘Murderers as Carers,’ which was first published in Swiss publication Reportagen.”

Meanwhile, Der Spiegel also stated that “Claas Relotius committed his deception intentionally, methodically and with criminal intent. For example, he included individuals in his stories who he had never met or spoken to, telling their stories or quoting them. Instead, he would reveal, he based the depictions on other media or video recordings. By doing so, he created composite characters of people who actually did exist but whose stories Relotius had fabricated. He also made up dialogue and quotes … Relotius first wrote for DER SPIEGEL as a freelancer, but he was employed as an editor for the past year and a half. Since 2011, just under 60 of his articles were published in DER SPIEGEL magazine or on SPIEGEL ONLINE. By his own admission, there are at least 14 articles in question that are at least in part fabrications. Is he to be believed? Could that figure actually be considerably higher? The only thing that can be stated with certainty right now is that the work in uncovering that has only just begun.”

Der Spiegel also warned that Relotius’ journalistic fraud could have occurred in other media outlets: “Relotius also worked for other media organizations in Germany and abroad. 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.”

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