Last year, spent Claas Relotius several weeks in the small town in western Minnesota. The article that came out of the visit is described as a way to better understand the people who voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election, writes Der Spiegel. The only problem – which proved in hindsight – was that the several parts of the story was fabricated.
Claas Relotius shall, inter alia, found quotes and stories from different people in live in Fergus Falls, but also completely fabricated events and characters.
has now sent a new reporter to Fergus Falls, Christoph Scheuermann, to sort out the inaccuracies in the original story and meet the people who fought for redress for their city.
"What I think happened, is that he tried to find a cliché of a city who vote for Trump and he found simply not cliché," says the reporter, he to the New York Times.
Fergus Falls-first Michele Anderson and Jake Krohn has been for nearly a year and a half, followed up and reviewed the Claas Relotius article about their hometown.
they tried to translate it from German to English using Google Translate. First thought it that the translation has been completely wrong, considering how absurd the thought that the English translation become. Soon, they realized that it was not the translation that was the problem – but the content of the article.
Already when the article was published tweeted the two friends to Der man to hold this editorial for pointing out the errors – but to get the answer. Now they have also published a fact-checking of Claas Relotius reportage.
”They have become heroes here in Fergus Falls,” writes Christoph Scheuermann.
Relotius article describes a man with the name Neil Becker. He has voted for Trump, working as kolskyfflare at the local power plant and says that he dislikes to travel. A picture of the man have also been published, but he really called Douglas Becker, and not Neil Becker.
Douglas Becker drove in 34 years to a gym in the city and now he is working as a supplier to the company UPS. He has visited almost all the airports in the united states.
" I thought at first that the article was satire. I'm not offended at all, " says Douglas Becker to Der Spiegel.
The only similarity between the fictional Mr Becker and mr Becker is that he voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election.
the reality of the image is Maria Rodriguez. According to Claas Relotius she has a kidney disease, little money and dreams of returning to his home country of Mexico. Also she should have voted for Trump.
Christoph Scheuermann says Maria Rodriguez, she is perfectly healthy and that she's happy in Minnesota. She has just recently opened a restaurant with her husband. And that she would have voted for Trump is not possible – she has no us passport, and therefore must not vote.
" I always try to see the best in people. I trusted the one where the reporter and was disappointed, but it does not mean that I will stop being open to other people in the future, " she says.
reminiscent of Relotius characters, but the longer you talk with them, the greater will be the distance between the narrative and the reality”, writes Christoph Scheuermann.
In his story from Fergus Falls depicts Christoph Scheuermann a forgiving city. The first city mayor Ben Schierer says to him is:
" Apology accepted! What do you want to drink?
Christoph Scheuermann goes so far as to call the Fergus Falls, perhaps the ”most forgiving city in the western hemisphere”.the Journalist Claas Relotius have been fired from Der Spiegel since it was revealed that he had found on the information in their reportage. Photo: Wenn Ltd/IBL
acknowledged Claas Relotius that he is partly or entirely found on the contents of at least 16 reports in the last seven years. He has been dismissed from the German magazine, Der Spiegel, and even risk to be prosecuted for embezzlement because he asked readers for donations for a partly fabricated reports about syrian children on the street.
Claas Relotius has CNN been named to this year's journalist of 2014 and as late as in december he was awarded a prestigious German prize for journalism. Of all 60 texts Claas Relotius written for Der Spiegel, are now to be examined, and two high-ranking editors have been turned off during the time the magazine is conducting an internal investigation of the events.
"the Shops around the Relotius raises the question if they can continue at their posts after such a disaster," writes editor-in-chief Steffen Klusmann according to Süddeutche Zeitung.
Claas Relotius fake story was revealed when a colleague who worked with him did concern and sounded the alarm. Relotius has explained his actions with fear.
”The more success I had, the more increased the pressure to not fail,” he said to their managers.
the Editors will be turned off after bluffreportagen
the German journalist liable to prosecution for embezzlement
German stjärnreportern who bluffed: ”I was afraid to fail,”