So if a scandal like this can happen at Spiegel, many have wondered, what does that mean for everyone else? And what kinds of questions does Relotius—whose evocative prose was so admired that Spiegel editors called it the “Relotius sound”—raise about the merits and pitfalls of narrative journalism and foreign correspondence more broadly?
Spiegel isn’t the first high-profile news organization with a staffer who partially or fully made up stories: Over the past two decades, The New York Times, The New Republic, and USA Today, among others, have faced similar challenges to their credibility. But Spiegel’s reckoning comes at a time when trust in media is perilously low—and it presents a case study for how a news organization attempts the tall task of regaining reader trust in the age of so-called fake news.
The German outlet broke the news of the scandal itself on December