When the journal Science recently retracted two papers by the South Korean researcher Dr. Hwang Woo Suk, it officially confirmed what he had denied for months: Dr. Hwang had fabricated evidence that he had cloned human cells. But the editors of Science were not alone in telling the world of Dr. Hwang’s research. Newspapers, wire services and television networks had initially trumpeted the news, as they often do with information served up by the leading scientific journals. Now news organizations say they are starting to look at the science journals a bit more skeptically. “My antennae are definitely up since this whole thing unfolded,” said Rob Stein, a science reporter for The Washington Post. “I’m reading papers a lot more closely than I had in the past, just to sort of satisfy myself that any individual piece of research is valid. But we’re still in sort of the same situation that the journal editors are, which is that if someone wants to completely fabricate data, it’s hard to figure that out.” But other than heightened skepticism, not a lot has changed in how newspapers treat scientific journals. Indeed, newspaper editors openly acknowledge their dependence on them. […]

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