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Two headlines for same stem cell story: halting progress? Or patients dancing?

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Last week, I read with interest a New York Times piece headlined, “The Trials of Stem Cell Therapy,” with the subhead:  “Stem Cells: Plenty of Hope, but Halting Progress.”  I thought that was an appropriately cautious introduction to this issue, which has received so much hype.

“Halting” is defined as:

  • marked by a lack of sureness or effectiveness
  • stopping often because of not being sure about what to say or do; not steady

The story asked the question, “Why, then, are there not more success stories, given all the money poured into stem cell research?”

A headline again pulled me in – as headlines are made to do – when, 6 days later, the Science/Health section of my Sunday Star Tribune newspaper published the following story:

I thought to myself, “How can two such different stories come out within days of each other?”  One leads with “halting progress” while the other trumpets “Starts To Show Results” with a subhead about a heart patient who now goes dancing.

But then I realized IT WAS THE SAME STORY – just with a different headline apparently slapped on top by someone at the Star Tribune who was cobbling together pieces grabbed from others in order to flesh out its Sunday Science/Health section.

Did someone at the Strib miss the questioning tone of the original New York Times piece?  Maybe this is what happens when one publishes a Science/Health section that is almost always nearly filled with stuff that your staff didn’t write.


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