Der Spiegel sends another reporter to Fergus Falls – this time to apologize

It comes after it fired a reporter for lying about the west-central city.
Publish date:

German magazine Der Spiegel has had another stab at writing about Fergus Falls, this time accurately.

It comes after the publication fired one of its journalists, Claas Relotius, after he was found to have fabricated details in dozens of stories dating back several years.

One of those stories was a March 2017 piece about Fergus Falls, in which Relotius created a fiction about the people he spoke to and the things he saw during his stay in west-central Minnesota.

Among his fake claims in the story was that he saw a sign saying "Mexicans keep out" at one of the entrances to the city, made up supposed facts about city administrator Andrew Bremseth, and exaggerated the level and fervor for President Donald Trump.

Some of the people named in the story didn't even exist, an investigation by Der Spiegel later found.

To read a really good takedown of Relotius' article, Fergus Falls locals Michele Anderson and Jake Krohn went through each untruth one by one in this Medium blog, "Der Spiegel journalist messed with the wrong small town."

Der Spiegel's latest piece is entitled: "Fergus Falls: A fantastic town," and saw Christoph Scheuermann write what the magazine contends is a more accurate portrayal of the city.

One of the main themes running throughout Scheuermann's piece is how locals have reacted, with Fergus Falls described as "the most forgiving city in the Western Hemisphere."

Douglas Becker, 34, who was described as a coal shoveling power plant worker in the Relotius article but in reality is a UPS delivery employee who previously ran a gym in the city, told Der Spiegel: "I first thought the article was a piece of satire ... I don't feel offended at all," before adding that he's worried about Relotius ("A nice guy") following his well-publicized fall from grace.

Sign up: Subscribe to our daily newsletters

Others, including Bremseth, are less forgiving, Scheuermann notes, though it's less about what was said about them personally, but more about the negative portrayal of a city of which they're proud.

"Spending three days in the real Fergus Falls, and not in the imaginary one, provides a lesson in humility," Scheurmann notes.

"Of course, this town also has its problems, but people are doing their best -- they're friendly and hard-working. Yes, it may be true that the majority here voted for Donald Trump, but it is also true that the people of Fergus Falls are far more interesting and complex than the caricatures dreamed up by Claas Relotius."

Next Up


Fergus Falls goat still on the lam

Remember the story about the goat that got loose right before it was supposed to appear in a Christmas Eve nativity scene in Fergus Falls? Apparently it's still running around out there. A witness reported spotting it sometime Tuesday, according to the Fergus Falls Journal, which has launched "Goat Watch" to track the animal.