Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

“Minor French medical website” breaks Human Reproduction embargo

with 2 comments

It’s bad enough to be called out publicly for breaking an embargo. But if a press officer manages to call you “a minor French medical website” in an announcement to other media, that’s got to sting.

Message this morning from Emma Mason, who handles press for Human Reproduction:

Due to an embargo break by Le Quotidien du Medecin (a minor French medical website) this morning, the agency APM has put out the story about the Danish woman who gave birth to two children in two separate pregnancies. Therefore, I have lifted the embargo on this story and you’re free to publish it whenever you want. I’ve pasted the original press release below to help you identify the story. I am taking appropriate action against Le Quotidien.

I asked Emma about the “appropriate action,” and here’s how she replied:

I’ve just finalised a letter to them and I will be sending it to everyone on my media database as well as to Eurekalert and Alphagalileo. In brief, as they say it was an accident and such a thing hasn’t happened “for many years”, and they took it down (although too late), we have decided not to suspend them on this occasion but warned them that should it happen again we will suspend them for six months and that we are telling everyone that this is what we’re doing.

Important to note that the journal is punishing the original offender — Le Quotidien — and not the wire service, APM.

Here’s Reuters’ version of the story, posted after the embargo was lifted. The study itself isn’t available on the public journal site yet, just to press.

Emma asked me if I thought the treatment was fair. I do. What do you think?

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Written by Ivan Oransky

February 24, 2010 at 11:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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2 Responses

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  1. Seems fair. But Mason’s email had me puzzled until I read the Reuters link. A “woman giving birth to two children in two separate pregnancies” doesn’t seem that newsworthy! ;-)

    Ed Yong

    February 24, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    • I have a strong suspicion that Ms. Mason’s “minor French medical website” comment may reveal her views about the importance of anything French in general, rather than the true position of Le Quotidien du Médecin in its market. Le Quotidien, the leading publication for French doctors, is sent daily (Mon-Fri) to 80,000 physicians. This isn’t too minor in a country where some of the top national dailies struggle in the low to mid 100,000s. Unlike Le Quotidien, Human Reproduction doesn’t disclose its circulation or readership on its website…

      Vincent Baby

      February 27, 2010 at 9:10 am


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