(Please note: Stern.de has positively responded to our open letter. We have translated their letter and posted it below. The original German version of the Stern.de letter has been published next to the German version of our open letter at Medienkritik Online.)
To the editors and staff of Stern.de:
I am writing this letter to express deep concern about your recent article "Fire and Bullets Rained Down on Us." In the article, you write that Nicola Calipari, the Italian intelligence agent who was tragically killed in Iraq, was “murdered”. By using the word “murdered” you are clearly labeling the US soldiers involved in the shooting as murderers. And when you state that Mr. Calipari was “murdered”, you are also implicitly stating that he was intentionally targeted for death by American soldiers, although there is presently absolutely no evidence that would support such a claim. In fact, both the US and Italian governments strongly reject all implications that the death of Mr. Calipari was in any way intentional and both governments agree that his death was the result of a tragic accident and NOT the result of murder.
Before Our Open Letter / Stern.de: Calipari "murdered" by US soldiers.
After Our Open Letter / Stern.de: Calipari "killed" by US soldiers
By using the word “murdered” you are once again rushing to judge the United States and its citizens. You are declaring US soldiers guilty of murder with absolutely no factual evidence to back your assertions. It would seem that to Stern, the US soldiers involved in the incident are guilty until proven innocent. And, in a broader sense, it would seem that Stern is portraying Americans are a suspect race of “Tätervolk” not be trusted.
Sadly, this exploitation of German anti-American sentiment for profit seems to be part of a larger pattern at your publication. That is particularly troubling because Americans are not the first group to be made into scapegoats for all the world’s problems in German society. I will point to just two (of many) recent examples of particularly egregious anti-Americanism at Stern:
The incredible lack of journalistic integrity and responsibility displayed in "Fire and Bullets Rained Down on Us" and in many other Stern articles on the United States is deeply troubling to the readership of Davids Medienkritik and Medienkritik Online. We ask that you remove the word “murdered” from the article and we sincerely hope that, in the future, your publication will refrain from the opportunistic, financially driven exploitation of your readership’s anti-American sentiments.
UPDATE: Here is the letter we received from Stern.de, translated by Ray. Stern.de quickly made the right decision. Kudos!
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
We just received your critique of the named article “Fire and Bullets Rained Down on Us.” We thank you for your critical accompaniment of our Stern.de online offering.
Your critical objection to the use of the term “murdered” in the context of the, to this point, unresolved death of Nicola Calipari is absolutely appropriate. We would like to apologize in the name of the editorial staff for the lack of care in the editing of the text.
The article has been worked over in the meantime and the choice of words has been accordingly corrected.
For this clear – but hopefully one-time mistake – we would like to request once again that you excuse us and remain with friendly greetings,
We were pleasantly surprised to see that the person who read our email had the journalistic integrity to recognize, admit and demand the correction of this obvious mistake on the part of the editorial staff of Stern.de. Hopefully this change of heart will not be a "one-time" event.