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Japanese Paper That Fell For False Stem Cell Claim Takes Corrective Action

The Japanese newspaper that published what turned out to be false news of the first clinical application of cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells has detailed the lessons it learned and the steps it is taking to prevent a recurrence. The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest circulation daily, already apologized to readers for what it admitted were a collection of false articles. Now, in a collection of articles in its 26 October Japanese morning edition and the 27 October English Daily Yomiuri (available online here, here, here, and here), the media organization explained that reporters and editors failed to check basic facts. The newspaper detailed punitive pay cuts for those involved and the replacement of the science news editor.

To head off such problems in the future, the paper pledged to thoroughly check facts, strengthen the verification system in the science news department, and foster the development of reporters who are “able to put matters in perspective."

The Yomiuri also explained that its staff members had failed to check previous statements made by Hisashi Moriguchi, the man at the center of the scandal, that were reported in a number of previously published articles. These included claims of an affiliation with Harvard Medical School and of research accomplishments. This reporting gave Moriguchi, "a false ladder to [the appearance of] academic success," the English language article states.

Several other media organizations that highlighted Moriguchi’s story announced taking similar steps.