UND to host Q&A with Fergus Falls residents who exposed fake reporting

Two residents from Fergus Falls, Minn., who helped expose a false story about “Trump worship” in the German newspaper Der Spiegel will be visiting UND’s campus Friday to discuss what they learned about the stereotypes that many international and urban American readers have about "small town" United States.

In 2017, the German newspaper published a story written by Claas Relotius about the small Minnesota city. The piece painted the town as racist and had residents who blindly supported President Donald Trump.

Much of the piece, including information about the sign, was later found to be fabricated, along with several other articles Relotius had written for the German newspaper. Relotius was fired from the publication, which is also pressing charges against him.

Michele Anderson and Jake Krohn, two Fergus Falls residents who spent more than a year revisiting the people who Relotius had interviewed and fact-checking the claims made in the piece, will be speaking about the topic at the University of North Dakota this week.

Andrew Harnish, who helped put together the program, said the conversation will focus on journalistic ethics and discuss the stereotypes and the biases that Relotius brought to his story about small town American life.

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