The controversy surrounding journalist Oscar Garschagen, a Shanghai-based correspondent for the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, reached a fever pitch earlier this month, after his Chinese news assistant accused him of fabricating stories and quotes. NRC initially supported Garschagen, counter-accusing the Chinese assistant of dubious affiliations and undisclosed meetings with the Chinese government. Former news assistant Zhang Yajun wrote for Radii at the time:
I have a lot of experience writing statements for organizations in crisis, and would like to provide my communication expertise to NRC: The audience is always sympathetic to the underdog. A respected news organization needs to take the high ground by launching an independent investigation and providing trustworthy evidence to the public. Changing the topic by smearing your former employees will never help your reputation, and will only make people wonder about the true reason behind the accusations.
It appears that NRC has conducted just such an internal review, and is now retracting its support for Garschagen. According to a statement just issued by the paper (in Dutch; this is a Google Translation):
Oscar Garschagen, who was a ten-year correspondent for NRC in China, has made serious mistakes in our journalistic rules over recent years. He thereby harmed the trust that the editor and the reader put in him. This has been shown by an internal investigation conducted by NRC over the last few weeks. Garschagen (64) leaves the organization. […]
The newspaper opened an investigation internally and asked Oscar for evidence that could prove its version of the facts. The main editorial and the head of foreigners conducted extensive talks with him to review the allegations. The Ombudsman also, at the request of the main editorial board, moved into the case.
After several conversations with Oscar, the editorial officer had to find out that he was not able to make his version of the facts difficult, but again had to admit that he had been very messy or even plagiarized.
Read the full statement here.
Cover photo: Van Rossum