AP NEWS

Dutch magazine cuts ties with reporter over suspect stories

January 23, 2019

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Media in the Netherlands and Belgium said Tuesday and Wednesday that they have cut ties with a freelance reporter amid allegations he plagiarized other media and cited sources in stories who could not be traced.

The scandal was another blow to the reputation of journalism in Western Europe, following a high profile case in Germany last month.

News magazine Nieuwe Revu said Tuesday it was withdrawing 27 articles written by freelance reporter Peter Blasic, who covered general news, saying that he had cited sources in his stories that the magazine has been unable to track down.

On Wednesday, another Dutch magazine, HP/De Tijd, said in a statement that seven of about 300 articles by Blasic it published on its website from 2014 to 2017 were “copied in whole or in part” from the EUobserver website, without crediting the site.

Blasic, who also works as a civil servant in the southern town of Roermond, did not respond Wednesday to calls and emails seeking comment.

Belgian media also reported uncovering plagiarism and dubious sourcing in his stories.

Belgian website Knack.be said that it published six articles by Blasic on the sites Knack.be and Weekend.be.

“Our own investigations show that Blasic never spoke to certain sources he cites in the articles and appears to have invented a number of anonymous witnesses,” Knack.be said.

It added: “Our website made a mistake. We should have seen through this fraudster.”

The statements followed publication this week by Amsterdam weekly De Groene Amsterdammer of a report outlining a string of suspect stories by Blasic in Dutch and Belgian media.

Those revelations come a month after German weekly Der Spiegel revealed that one of its star reporters, Claas Relotius, left the publication after committing journalistic fraud “on a grand scale” over a number of years.

Tom Kellerhuis, editor-in-chief of HP/De Tijd, said his website stopped working with Blasic after discovering his alleged plagiarism in October 2017, although the site did not publicize the situation at the time.

“This wasn’t about a star reporter with a formidable reputation, but a starting inexperienced ‘journalist’ who still denies his plagiarism,” Kellerhuis wrote.