The following article reminds me of the notorious Washington Post feature on Jimmy the 8-year-old heroin addict. It was written by Janet Cooke and printed in the paper in the fall of 1980. The author won a Pulitzer Prize for her work, but a few months later the story began to unravel. It eventually emerged that the account was entirely fabricated, and Ms. Cooke had to return her prize and resign. Her name became synonymous with “fraudulent journalism”.
Nothing numbs the critical faculties of newspaper editors like the tear-jerking plight of the Puir Wee Bairns.
Many thanks to Hellequin GB for translating this article from Focus Online. The translator’s comments are in square brackets:
Four years after the Relotius scandal*
Doubts about the death of refugee girls: Spiegel takes its own article offline
Almost four years after the Relotius scandal, Der Spiegel again has a problem with some of its articles. There are doubts about the truthfulness of Spiegel reports from last August. Specifically, it is about a refugee girl who is said to have died on an island between Turkey and Greece.
Der Spiegel has now taken four articles about the case offline. Instead, the editors have published a statement under the respective URLs. Under the headline “Death trap EU border” of the original article from August 19th, 2022 it now says: “At this point there was an article about the fate of a group of refugees on the Greek-Turkish border river Evros in the summer of 2022. There are now doubts about the previous description of what happened at that time. We have therefore temporarily removed several posts on this topic from our website. We are reviewing our reporting and, once the research is complete, will decide whether or not to republish the articles in a corrected and updated form.” [Shouldn’t professional journalists research BEFORE they publish something? Or could it be, since this story fits the narrative, this isn’t done?]
Letter to Spiegel from Greek migration minister
As Medieninsider reports, there are not just doubts about the death of the girl. It is therefore unclear whether she existed at all. In one of the articles in question, the Spiegel reporter wrote accusingly, according to Medieninsider: “Now Maria is dead. She died at the beginning of August at Europe’s external border because the Greek authorities refused her any help. She had just turned five years old.”
According to Medieninsider, Greek Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi expressed doubts, which he also shared with Spiegel editor-in-chief Steffen Klusmann in a letter in September. According to Medieninsider, Mitarachi accused the reporter of the Hamburg news magazine of having acquired the information on the case from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) almost unfiltered. And most importantly, “From the facts and all photographic evidence, it is clear that there is no missing child, let alone a dead child.”