Thursday, April 03, 2014

Sleazy Magazine Trick To Sell More Copies Results In Angry Reaction In Germany

Posted by Peter Quennell

[Cover of German magazine Aktuelle; the banner headline translates as “Awake!”] 

As we have seen, bad reporting can cause real harm. Here is an encouraging example of other media hammering the originator of a hurtful, tacky reeport.

The German Grand Prix driver Michael Schumacher, the winningest of all time, is a huge hero in Germany, and known and liked throughout the world. He amassed a fortune close to $1 billion and had started many projects with his money to make a difference to many peoples’ lives.

The 44-year-old retired driver who is currently fighting for his life in a Grenoble hospital following a skiing accident has long made large but low-key donations around the world.  Here are some examples from the NewsTalk site.


The former Ferrari driver is a Special Envoy for Education and Sport and donated €1.5 million to the organization.

In a 2002 interview with the organization he explained his dedication to funding projects: “I really want to help the ones people don’t know about. Nowadays, certain projects attract lots of donors. Then there are others you never hear about. Those are the ones I’m interested in.”

He also once told F1 magazine that: “It’s great if you can use your fame and the power your fame gives you to draw attention to things that really matter.”


In 2002, Schumacher funded the construction of a school in a poor slum in Dakar, the capital of the West African state of Senegal.


In 1997, Schumacher opened a clinic for child victims of the Balkans War. The clinic provides artificial limbs for amputees as well as psychological support.


In 2002, he funded the construction of a ‘Palace for the Poor’ in Lima, Peru which caters for homeless children and provides education, food and medical treatment for street children.

2004 Tsunami

Along with his two sons, Schumacher’s bodyguard lost his life in ihe 2004 Tsunami following the Indian Ocean earthquake. Schumi donated over €7 million in aid which meant that he gave more money than many individual countries, sports entities and organizations.  .

Schumacher has remained in a coma in a French hospital for three months since a ski accident which initially seemed minor led to bleeding in the area of his brain. This is a particularly difficult time because for some weeks doctors have been trying to wake him up.

There is an unprecedented number of ongoing tributes to Michael Schumacher by friends and fans around the world and all the Grand Prix cars at present are carrying a message of hope.

A majority of brain surgeons now feel his waking-up will be a long shot at best, but Schumacher’s very loyal wife Corinna is having a $10 million medical facility built in a hurry at his estate several miles north of Geneva, Switzerland, on the west side of the lake. [Though widely reported his manager has just denied this.]

What has caused the outrage in Germany is the banner headline on the cover of a women’s magazine saying “Awake” implying that Schumacher himself has woken up. From the Eurosport site:

Outraged Michael Schumacher supporters have bombarded a magazine with furious complaints after a front page showed the F1 legend smiling with a horribly misleading headline - ‘AWAKE!’.

The magazine’s content, which was actually full of stories about other people who had woken from comas has infuriated Schumacher fans, who saw the smiling photo of the star cuddling wife Corinna as “abysmal”, “tasteless” and “insulting”....

Dr Gerd Hartmann, a regular reader, wrote in the comments section of popular news portal “Such magazines are simply terrible, especially given that the chances of survival with this type of therapy are abysmal.

“Out of 10 patients 5 would never recover, 3 will be severely disabled and only 2 might recover.”

Another user, posting under the name SchumiFan, added: “I can’t believe they are cashing in on this tragedy - there should be a law against this type of shoddy, sensationalist and downright insulting journalism.”

Meanwhile, German media ethics expert Christian Schicha said: “This is a clear attempt to deceive the readers. It is an obvious attempt to make money out of a sick man.

“It is completely tasteless. It is ethically completely out of the question. “Die Aktuelle blatantly makes the impression through the headline that they know something new about the case. It is completely irresponsible.

“Schumacher’s family have suffered enough without this kind of story circulating.”

Another cruel media trick of the kind that hurts the victim’s family the worst.

[Below: Schumacher and his wife Corinna were legendary for being together at every possible moment ]

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/03/14 at 02:04 PM in News media & moviesMedia developments

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The Die Aktuelle story appears on 2500 websites in various languages. The editors cant be too thrilled. This episode could take them down.

The report in the UK Daily mail (which plays more than a few tricks of its own to grab readers) is here:

The misjudged Aktuelle report really broke with the focus and the caring tone of tens of thousands of other reports in the past several months. This accident which happened so “easily” has left a lot of people shocked.

Not everybody prior to the accident knew much about Michael Schumacher’s causes or what a fine woman his wife is. I didnt for one.

But celebrities like Schumacher and billionaires like Bill Gates using their fortunes and names to edge public efforts in helpful directions seems often sincere and the results are hard to fault.

George Clooney’s list of causes for example is astonishing and how he helped in the Sudan, a tough country I was based in for the UN, impressed the hell out of me.

What a pity the Knox groupies dont refocus on a real cause. Beating up on Italy and Meredith’s family is the sleazy opposite of what Schumacher and Clooney suggest we stand for.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/03/14 at 09:01 PM | #

A huge wave of warmth is also being beamed at Corinna Schumacher who looks to be a fine high-achieving role modelin her own right.

Here is a report on Corinna which Allan Hall of the UK Express filed a few weeks ago, which summarises what a lot of people have come to learn about her. Moving words.

The Wife Who Waits…

Monitors flicker, drips empty into his immobile body and machines beep data only understood by the neurosurgeons battling to save him.

But what the high-tech gizmos cannot detect is the love that pulses out from the woman next to him.

The doctors now tasked with trying to save the life of the former world motor racing champion know that Corinna Schumacher’s brand of invisible medicine may turn out to be the most important remedy yet.

Corinna, 44, is truly the woman behind the successful man, the pit-stop wife. She was there for him throughout the 307 times he took to the Formula One circuits of the world. She is there for him now.

She has given few interviews since she wed Michael in 1995, devoting herself to him and their children Gina Marie, 16, and Mick, 14. She knew her image among media types was that of a provincial office clerk – blonde, perhaps a bit of an airhead, naive. It never bothered her.

Newspapers speculated at the time of their union that this was a marriage destined to have all the sparkle of a day-old glass of champagne: a confection dreamed up by Schumacher’s then publicity-hungry manager Willi Weber to maximise his global profile.

But when they met at a Ferrari party – she had broken up with another German racing driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen by then – the saleslady and the racer were spellbound.

“Rarely do you see a couple made for each other as the Schumachers seemed to be,” reported Stern magazine in Germany a year after their marriage. At the heart of the union was the instant knowledge that she could never tame him.

So the pact was this: Michael pledged love, honour, a family and riches if she would grant him the freedom to pursue his career no matter how high the stakes. She signed on the dotted line and stayed in the background.

Now she sits bathed in the green glow of the machines that are keeping her 45-year-old husband alive, surrounded by lucky charms

Over the years the glittering prizes of a fabulous, if extremely dangerous, lifestyle came her way. He bought her a ranch in Texas on their 10th wedding anniversary, built a beautiful home in Switzerland and acquired ski chalets, including the one in Meribel from where he set out on December 29 on his catastrophic ski run.

Money was never an issue. He earned an estimated £500million in his career – paying little tax on it because of his residency in Switzerland – and, until his accident, earned £7million a year as an ambassador for Mercedes, plus many tens of millions more in endorsement deals and investments.

She raised horses on the Texas ranch 90 miles from Dallas and became a European champion of “reining” – western-style riding – and has built up the business into a multimillion-pound concern.

Toward the end of his racing days she said: “Michael knows exactly what he’s doing and he knows that I am always behind him. He needs his challenges. Even now. I can well understand it and find that actually classy.”

Now she sits bathed in the green glow of the machines that are keeping her 45-year-old husband alive, surrounded by lucky charms. There is a hair brush by her side that belongs to their daughter.

There is the golden cross from his son, bought for him in 2006. There is an amulet of one of his employees called Lindsay that he took with him on every race.

And as of last Friday, the wooden-beaded Shamballa bracelet that was his talisman, found in the snow where he crashed his head against a rock on a low-speed run.

He once said of Corinna: “It is not so easy to find a partner who unconditionally adapts to the pace of my life.” But she did so willingly, accepting that his passion for racing was a part of his DNA.

And she said in happier times: “Michael’s passion for racing is just huge. It would have been impossible without this deep passion.

Michael Schumacher, Formula 1, crashSchumacher crashing his car back in 2004, though he escaped unharmed [GETTY]

This passion has made him who he is. I got to know him as a racer and I had previously always had fullest confidence in him.”

Even so she made him promise after a 2009 motorcycle accident in Spain that almost landed him in a wheelchair that the days of thrills and spills must be tempered. He toned down his lifestyle, telling pals: “I garnered all the trophies, money and medals I wanted.

But the biggest prize of all, the only one that meant anything really, was Corinna.” He referred to his marriage as “total harmony”, adding: “We have the same vision of how we want to spend our lives. My wife Corinna and our harmonious family, that is my main force always at play in the background.”

In an interview with Germany’s ZDF TV channel days before his accident, Michael said that in all the years they have been together they have never had a serious fight.

“It’s because we shared the same values,” he commented. “During all the time I was racing she was my guardian angel.”

But the magic wore off on December 29 when, instead of driving at 200mph, he was skiing at less than 10mph, crashed and has now been in a medically induced coma for more than three weeks. The prognosis is not good and international neurological experts have warned that the longer it lasts, the less his chances are of coming out of it.

That is not what Corinna wants to hear, not what she believes.

A woman who lived in the shadows of his fame has now stepped into the spotlight of the world’s press, photographed every day entering the hospital in Grenoble where her soulmate struggles against colossal odds, leaving late at night for a few snatched hours of troubled sleep.

A family friend, who has known the Schumachers throughout their married life, tells me: “All the models, the groupies, the sex-on-legs pit-stop girls never meant a thing to Michael. Corinna was a small-town girl like he was a small-town boy, both from the same end of the country.

“They truly married their souls as well as their bodies. He doesn’t know she’s in the room with him in Grenoble but all the time that positive love is fl owing into him. No one loves him more than Corinna.

“If he should not come through this, then life as she knows it will also end. She could never love again.”

The Texas CS Ranch has its own website here:  There is now one in Switzerland too.



Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/03/14 at 09:44 PM | #

What a class couple. The prognosis doesn’t look good, it would need a miracle.

Posted by Ergon on 04/03/14 at 10:26 PM | #

Definitely soul mates by the sound of it. On some level I think Michael will know his wife is there with him at the bedside.

Some better news recently:

Posted by Odysseus on 04/04/14 at 12:16 PM | #

How lovely…  and how sad.

There is this thing happening between them that I have noticed in some truly close couples - where they have the same or very similar expression on their faces at the same time.

One couple I knew used to frequently turn up in the same colours on the same day - unaware of each other’s choice that morning.

Posted by SeekingUnderstanding on 04/04/14 at 01:14 PM | #

Hi Odysseus

Yes better news. I see one report saying he’s had moments of consciousness.

The Independent quotes Schumacher’s manager as saying “no medical suite”. 

Googling “schumacher” and “medical suite” throws up 2700 hits on media sites going back 4 days.

(Ones I read didnt imply he was a hopeless case, rather that Corinna was making a 150 mile round trip daily.)

If that report was wrong, who began it? Another invention like “awake”?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/04/14 at 01:28 PM | #


Yes - such couples are “items”, almost literally!

Posted by Odysseus on 04/04/14 at 02:33 PM | #


It could well be another media invention. The only charitable explanation I can think of is that the press, like the rest of us,  are finding it hard to wait patiently for real news which we all know will come when the Nencini motivation is released -:)

Posted by Odysseus on 04/04/14 at 02:39 PM | #

BBC reports the manager saying that Schumacher has had ‘moments of consciousness’ which is what media outlets all over seized on.

For those who have had a catastrophic brain injury as this, this is to be expected, but not indicative of eventual recovery.

This report that his wife plans on taking him home may or may not be true but does say quite clearly he will likely be in a ‘permanent vegetative state’ for the rest of his life.

I think of Terri Schiavo, and the case of Sunny Bulow, who stayed in that condition for 15, and 28 yrs respectively, and struck with sadness for all those concerned.

Posted by Ergon on 04/04/14 at 10:54 PM | #

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