Profile picture
Sunny Singh @sunnysingh_n6
, 54 tweets, 16 min read Read on Twitter
Thread
Can we talk about this @DerSPIEGEL lying reporter story and how it shows the sort of imperial, racialised group think many of us have been flagging up for a LONG time.

It isn't just that a reporter LIED but that the organisation and culture ENABLED it.
So let's start with that Relotius won LOADS of journalistic awards including "the German Reporter Prize on FOUR different occasions, the Peter Scholl Latour Prize and the Konrad-Duden, the Kindernothilfe and the Catholic and Coburger media awards"
It continues: "He was named CNN "Journalist of the Year," he was honored with the Reemtsma Liberty Award, the European Press Prize and he even landed on the Forbes magazine list of the "30 under 30 - Europe: Media."
May be @DerSPIEGEL fact checking and research department should check just HOW many women reporters won these accolades. Or for that matter - and I know this is a bridge too far for Western press - reporters of colour got this adulation.
Der Spiegel: "One wonders how he could endure the praise at the award ceremonies without running out of the hall in shame."

Me: *watches YET another mediocre lying white man boosted up by imperialist, capitalist, white supremacist heteropatriarchy*
In December, the jury for the 2018 German Reporter Award had once again decided this liar had written the best feature story of the year. About a Syrian boy who believed he had contributed to the civil war through a graffito he had daubed onto a wall in Daraa.

WHAT A WHOPPER!
Am I alone in being old enough to remember the fucking Amina Hoax? That was bloody 2011. Same batch of imperialist, Orientalist thinking, wishfulness, and need to see narratives Europe wants is at play here. Btw I wrote this back in 2011: sunnysinghonline.blogspot.com/2011/06/days-a…
Aside, yes, there is a mention of and link to Spiked but that was the only outlet actually considering issues that the rest of MSM was deliberately ignoring. Sorry about that....
But the issue remains the same: like Macmaster, Relotius too seems sure he can portray the “subaltern other” better than we can ourselves and thus self-righteously appropriates marginalised voices despite or indeed perhaps because of his status as a privileged white man!
BUT the day before the awards ceremony, ANOTHER story Relotius had written was questioned. And AGAIN, the story was about the 'other,' in this case about the Arizona border with Mexico.

See a pattern emerging here yet?
Get's better. On the Mexico story, Relotius had a co-writer, a Mexican journalist by the name of Juan Moreno, who - in a move that will surprise not a single damn PoC in the world - was not believed by @DerSPIEGEL
Der Spiegel: "Moreno would go through three or four weeks of hell because his colleagues and senior editors in Hamburg didn't initially believe that Relotius could be nothing more than a liar."

Yeah, HOW COULD THE WHITE BOY LIE?

That @DerSPIEGEL is how racism operates!
"In late November and into early December, some at DER SPIEGEL even believed that Moreno was the real phony and that Relotius was the victim of slander."

The white boy gets believed. The outsider/PoC/marginalised must produce IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE!
"Relotius skillfully parried all allegations and all of Moreno's well-researched evidence, constantly coming up with new ways of sowing doubt, plausibly refuting accusations and twisting the truth in his favor."

No honey, you just wanted to believe the white boy!
And even amidst all the self-flagellation and outrage, @DerSPIEGEL manages to throw in White Innocence™️life line to Relotius:

"Until he could no longer sleep at night for fear that he might get caught....he sat down...and came clean -- or at least his version of clean."
And it keeps going:

"During his confession on Thursday, Relotius said, verbatim: "It wasn't about the next big thing. It was the fear of failure." And: "The pressure not to fail grew as I became more successful."
Should I now be grateful that women of colour are barely allowed to succeed so we don't have to feel this terrible 'fear of failure' that led Relotius to LIE repeatedly and BUILD AN ENTIRE CAREER with fame, fortunes, awards?

*the rage*
Fair. Mea culpa for not being cleare. However he remains an auslander. Racialised heirarchies of in vs out groups are common in UK press which is frankly miles ahead in comparison. And we also know those heirarchies are conditional as Brexit has shown.

Oh there is lying in your features. And then there is lying on your CV:
"According to a self-penned biographical blurb, Relotius also wrote for the Guardian, but DER SPIEGEL has found no evidence for the claim in its digital archive."

What say @guardian?
"When Relotius wrote that the small town has "three churches, two hunting clubs and a Main Street that stretches for miles between dilapidated low-rise buildings," that could also be reviewed thanks to the possibilities offered by the internet."
This entire section on how @DerSPIEGEL fact checks explain a LOT about why Relotius lied for year and was rewarded for it!

Google maps is a good point on 'fact checking' but that is NOT the bloody end of the process!
Der Spiegel again peddling White Innocence™️excuses: "The idea that a colleague would deliberately cheat is not part of everyday considerations in journalism."

Would be fun to see how their 'auslander' journos are fact checked. Just as a comparison.
MORE bullshit from @DerSPIEGEL: "Our willingness to consider even the most incredible stories to be true, as long as they seem at least plausible, is almost boundless."

No honey. It's WHO tells you that story and your own need to believe them. THAT's how power imbalances work
As an editor & section head, your 1st reaction when receiving stories like this is to be pleased, not suspicious. You are more interested in evaluating the story based on criteria such as craftsmanship, dramaturgy & harmonious linguistic images than on whether it's actually true.
I SO wish I had been allowed these kinds of flourishes. Hell, I am still not allowed this kind of bullshit leeway.

That white male privilege is hella drug
And it was from the very start: "from time to time, he would land an amazing story, starting with "Number 440" in April 2016, the gripping account of a Yemenite wrongly imprisoned in Guantanamo.....

..."Relotius admits that "Number 440" contains some fabrications
So his first big story is about a Yemenite prisoners in Guantanamo. His next one got lots of awards and was about two orphans from Aleppo who ended up as sex slaves in Turkey.

Fucking hell! HAS NOBODY IN @DerSPIEGEL READ EDWARD SAID!?
The opening para of the Aleppo orphans story - included in the Der Spiegel piece - is serious recycling of Orientalist cliches. Any reasonable editor would be and SHOULD be able to identify these.
This line sent chills up my spine: "When Relotius met with the girl's brother Ahmed, a photographer was present, essentially an independent witness. But Relotius took the picture of the girl Alin himself and he was alone with her, without photographers."
JFC!
May be I have lived too long and worked way too long with #VAWG and #CSA but that set off every damn alarm bell I have!
Meanwhile his Yemeni prisoner in Guantanamo - the one that got @DerSPIEGEL - is so explicitly bullshit that anyone with half a brain and ANY knowledge of Yemen, the wider region, GWOT or Guantanamo would know in a glance that it is all poppycock
He doesn't actually speak to the prisoner but gets his 'voice' (DAMN! He wrote it) from other sources including: "a lawyer, a brother "in Yemen" and former cell neighbors, and there are also camp reports, leaked secret files and personal letters"
Der Spiegel on that first story: "He knows nothing -- and he admitted it last Thursday when he confessed that he largely imagined the prisoner's inner transformation."

Yeah but your editors passed it. Germany's media circle lauded it. He got prizes for peddling Orientalism.
Lo and behold, he continues with "a heart-wrenching story that made waves well beyond journalistic circles" about "how Islamic State had abducted two brothers, ages 12 and 13, brainwashed them, and dispatched them to Kirkuk as suicide bombers. "
Here is where things go from lying because 'fear of failure' bullshit to actively peddling Islamophobic propaganda (and let us not ignore the context that the Daesh child bombers story came out in early 2017).
"Relotius quoted him (one of the child would be suicide bombers) reciting verses from the Koran that his IS captors allegedly drummed into his head....and none of it actually happened, except for in the mind of the author who is piecing together yet another award-winning story."
Remember this is in context not only of post 9/11 Islamophobia but the refugee crisis, Merkel's decision to accept those 'one million' refugees, far right hoaxes about Arab rapists and terrorists, and all enabled by the press. Plus Chump's election in 2016.
Relotius makes up a child suicide bomber who has been radicalised by Daesh and who spends his time reciting Koranic verses.

Leni Riefenstahl would be proud!!!!
Having graduated from writing about those 'terrible' foreigners in MENA region, Relotius heads off to the USA. This is again where the absolute culpability of @DerSPIEGEL editors and editorial process becomes clear.

This time his lies are laughable.
OK first rule for news editors: When a reporter tells you there is a sign saying "Mexicans Keep Out" outside a town, you bloody ask your reporter to turn in a picture.

It's fucking 2018. And it isn't instagrammable, it didn't happen!!!!!
He straight up lies about speaking with @Kaepernick7's parents.

Let me spell out the pattern: Relotius lies on EVERY damn story he files but he is particularly egregious in making up stuff when he is covering PoC, foreigners, auslanders.

This is straight up imperial fuckery.
Oh also about women.

This is hilarious: "He made up the story, all 40,273 characters, five pages and one column of it, published in DER SPIEGEL 10/2018, pages 58 to 63."

Hey @DerSPIEGEL, I'm a bona fide novelist and hell I could give more fact based fiction that this schmuck.
And MORE peddling of White Innocence™️by Relotius and @derspiegel:

Something is wrong with him, says Claas Relotius, and he now needs to work on that. "I'm sick and I need to get help."

Funny how white men are NEVER responsible or guilty. They just get to be sick
This White Innocence™️ serves a purpose. It is intended to create a more sympathetic portrayal of Relotius and leave avenues open for rehabilitation. Amreminded of Johann Hari who also lied but reappeared with a hyped book on mental health (don't bother - it's problematic AF)
It also lets @DerSPIEGEL editors and management off the hook,not just for not fact checking but for relying on their own preconception and stereotypes for credibility instead of facts.
I am also reminded of the 2008 banking crisis where a lack of diversity in board rooms, decision-making chambers, the full structure led to group think. We KNOW diversity means better decision in ALL institutions.
And this is where @DerSPIEGEL fail. Had they hired, empowered, promoted MORE journalists from region and communities that Relotius lied about, the scam wouldn't have got so far.
Had @DerSPIEGEL editors bothered to commission, hire, promoted journalists with regional, linguistic, cultural skills and knowledge instead of parachuting Relotius so he could feed their already formed stereotypes, this could have been stopped long ago.
And if @DerSPIEGEL editors weren't so afraid of hearing from people who LIVE their stories instead of relying on the imperial impulse of funneling stories into acceptable narratives, they would not be in this humiliating position now.
Hopefully @DerSPIEGEL and other outlets will use this as a learning opportunity and a re-assessment of what it means to uphold journalistic standards as well as understanding how their own biases and structural exclusions lead to shitty journalism.
End thread
PS if you'd like the link, here goes: spiegel.de/international/…
PPS seriously considering adding an Errata tweet to my threads. God knows I need them....
Adding this MUCH shorter follow up thread (promise it is SHORT)
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Sunny Singh
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member and get exclusive features!

Premium member ($30.00/year)

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!