The Netherlands hit by fake news scandal after Germany

Published 24.01.2019 00:03

Evidencehas emerged that a Dutch freelance journalist who worked for news outlets in the Netherlands and Belgium, committed journalistic fraud over a number of years.

The De Groene Amsterdammer weekly newspaper after conducting an initial internal probe of the work of the freelance journalist Peter Blasic, said that sources of his articles published in many leading media outlets cannot be verified. The magazine said that his articles included made-up material from interviews that never happened, as he has changed his surname to Mertens from the second half of the year.

Nieuw Revu magazine also said that it withdrew his 27 articles published online from its website, while cutting its relationship with Blasic.

The revelations come a month after German weekly Der Spiegel revealed that one of its star reporters left the publication after committing major journalistic fraud. Claas Relotius, 33, resigned after admitting to making up stories and inventing protagonists in more than a dozen articles in the magazine's print and online editions. Since the scandal revealed by the magazine, other mainstream German outlets like Die Welt and Die Zeit which once used Relotius as a freelancer, have also begun poring through articles that he wrote for them.

In its editorial, Der Spiegel said the scam, involving subjects including Syrian orphans and a Holocaust survivor, is the "worst thing that can happen to an editorial team." It also apologized for the mistake and promised to "do everything to boost our credibility again."

Relotius had written for the magazine for seven years and won numerous awards for his investigative journalism, including CNN Journalist of the Year in 2014. The cheating came to light after a colleague who worked with him on a story along the U.S.-Mexican border raised suspicions about some of the details in Relotius's reporting. The colleague eventually tracked down two alleged sources quoted extensively by Relotius in the article, which was published in November. Both said they had never met Relotius.

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