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In a full-page ad, entrepreneur Benard Duzhmani defends himself against an article by the watchdog: It’s based on intrigue and uses clichés.

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Benard Duzhmani

“The article uses clichés and represents a variety of experiences filled with doubts that have been given to me because of my origins,” says Benard Duzhmani.

Maurice Haas

This ad ran at 20 minutes on Sunday and Monday on NZZ.

This ad ran at 20 minutes on Sunday and Monday on NZZ.

The magazine accused his company, Swiss Home Finance, of engaging in illegal business practices.

The magazine accused his company, Swiss Home Finance, of engaging in illegal business practices.

20min/Matthias Spicher

  • In December, the Observer magazine covered Benard Duzhmani’s company under the headline “With forged signature to change cash registers.”

  • Several employees are said to have reported forged signatures at the health insurance agency.

  • Now Duzhmani has posted two full-page ads in 20 Minuten and NZZ am Sonntag, where he defends himself against the allegations: The article serves stereotypes and is false.

  • Editor-in-chief Dominique Strebel says the observer is still 100 percent behind the news.

“I have decided to defend myself,” writes Benard Duzhmani in a full-page advertisement in the newspaper “NZZ am Sonntag” and on Monday 20 Minuten. Last December, the “observer” tried to “undo” some of its success with an article. The magazine accused his company, Swiss Home Finance, of engaging in illegal business practices; Several former employees reported that employees of the health insurance broker signed client documents themselves. In the ad, Duzhmani reads, “836 words that threaten my reputation, and especially employment, and therefore the existence of many employees.”

“Although there is no doubt or blame, one intrigue is enough to endanger the welfare of many people and stigmatize me,” says Duzhmani. Who could be responsible for this, doesn’t want to speculate for about 20 minutes. “I’ve been facing allegations every day for the past eight months,” Duzhmani says of up to 20 minutes. In the insurance sector, customers were already very cautious, it was no longer possible to do good work. Because of the article, he had to lay off 60 employees for this reason.

Ad deals with integration and stereotypes

Advertising now attracts the same attention as the media does. Among other things, he wants to draw attention to the latent stigma against secondarys that can be felt in the publication: “The article serves clichés and is representative of a variety of dubious experiences brought to me because of my origin.” Duzhmani has Kosovar roots and came to Switzerland as a small child. The advertisement asks the entrepreneur “When do you belong as an immigrant?” he asks. “When will the integration be complete?”

Observer editor-in-chief Dominique Strebel says the entrepreneur’s reaction is not a surprise, in an interview with industry portal It’s not the first time Duzhmani has tried to pressure her with a PR consultant. “A paid PR ad is not the right way to lead a discussion about journalistic content,” Strebel says. It is “nonsense” to accuse the observer of xenophobic tendencies.

“We are one hundred percent behind reporting”

The allegations in the article are “well documented” and are based on half a dozen former employees of the company, according to Strebel. “So we’re still and 100 percent behind reporting.” Strebel has been editor-in-chief at The Observer since May 2021, whose predecessor Andres Büchi, whose article was published in December, referred to Strebel’s statements when asked for 20 minutes, Mike Pelzer, media spokesperson for Ringier Axel Springer, confirmed the information.

Benard Duzhmani sued the observer for violation of personal rights and violation of the law against unfair competition. “I’m not the one who needs to prove my innocence – the magazine needs to prove the veracity of its claims,” ​​says the entrepreneur.

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