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Stem Cell Research: The Controversy

The Minnesota Senate voted 36-26 in favor of a bill that could open up the use of taxpayer money to fund embryonic stem cell research in the future. The University of Minnesota is one of the key institutions that could benefit from such a bill, and while the bill does not specifically name them, they are used as a key part of the issue in the coverage of the story. The vote was the first of two needed in the Senate, and the House will vote in the next couple of weeks.
Minnesota Public Radio covered this story very well, with a lengthy in-depth article that portrayed both supporters and critics in an equal and fair light. In addition to the written article, both an audio story and a video of Sen. Ray Vandeveer , who has Parkinson’s Disease, speaking out against the research that could help him and others who suffer from the disease.
MPR gave coverage of all sides of the issue, as well as noted what has happened in other states, and the type of research the university currently does. A seperate link also lead to how each individual senator voted.
On the Newspaper end of the spectrum, a less fair and less reported story is painted. The Star Tribune has a short article which does a good job of reporting the main fact that the senate voted for the bill, although the wording the lead and the final sentences leave the reader feeling a bit of a contradiction. The lead states that the bill allows the University to gain money, implying they are stated specifically in the bill, although the last line informs the reader that they University is not specifically named. This might cause confusion as most times readers do not read stories to their ending, even short stories.
The Pioneer Press also covers the vote, though in a manner which does not seem fair, balanced or neutral. The words used are very strong and sweeping, and they Jeremy Olson does not mention that the university is not specifically mentioned, nor that the bill is only a step to makes it easier for funds to be granted in the future.
Olson uses two sentences to sum up the beliefs of the two sides:
“DFL lawmakers in supporting the bill said the state investment is needed to put Minnesota back on top when it comes to medical research. Opponents countered that any research that requires the destruction of human embryos is unethical and perhaps already illegal in Minnesota.?
The choice of main reason for the supporters of the bill is interesting, since the main reason cited by both the Star Tribune, and MPR was the potential good that could come out of the research, and only the MPR article actually even mentions any notion of the research helping the University to stay at the top of the research.