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The daily Asahi Shimbun has forced a 46-year-old reporter to leave the company for secretly recording a conversation with a news source and giving a copy of the recording to another source.

Asahi officials said the reporter from the city news section had promised the source that it would be off the record.

The reporter, who quit the paper Thursday, copied the conversation to a mini disc and gave it to another source who was critical of the original source, the newspaper said.

The incident occurred while the reporter was covering suspected misappropriation of funds at a private medical university, it said.

The act came to light when copies of a CD-ROM that carried the same content as the mini disc were delivered to people familiar with the situation at the university in early June, prompting the original source to protest to Asahi Shimbun, Asahi officials said.

The reporter, whose name has not been disclosed, has explained to Asahi that he gave the copy to the third party to “confirm facts,” the newspaper said.

Asahi said it has not been made clear how the recording on the mini disc was copied to the CD-ROMs.

It quoted the second source as saying that he cannot find the mini disc and that it “may have been stolen.”

The newspaper said a 39-year-old reporter from the living section will be hit with a pay cut and four editorial executives, including an executive director, Masao Kimiwada, will be subject to pay cuts and other disciplinary actions for their managerial responsibility.

“An act of this kind damages the newspaper’s trust with its sources and also undermines the principle of the confidentiality of the source,” the newspaper said in explaining its disciplinary measures.

Kimiwada said the Asahi Shimbun has upheld its principle of building trust with news sources and keeping their promise of confidentiality as the primary code of ethics.

“We take the situation very seriously because things like this should never have happened. We offer our apologies to those who were affected by the case and will strive anew to abide by the strict journalistic ethics within the company,” he said.

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