Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

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The short embargo makes a (brief?) comeback

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Longtime Embargo Watch readers may remember one pet peeve of mine that seemed to come up a lot early on: The short embargo. In a nutshell — the short version, you might say — I wondered aloud a lot about how embargoes of less than 24 hours could possibly help reporters do a better job, as journals claimed their embargo policies were designed to.

I beat up on the short embargo offenders, notably the New England Journal of Medicine, which remains the undisputed champion with an embargo of 49 minutes. Since then, to the credit of journals, including NEJM, I haven’t seen very many short embargoes.

A few brief ones this week, however, put the issue back on my radar.

Item 1: An email sent by Emma Mason on behalf of the School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London a few minutes before 5 a.m. her time Monday, August 20: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 24, 2012 at 11:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Who gets access to embargoed content? EurekAlert revokes io9.com’s, but only briefly

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Yesterday, io9.com‘s Annalee Newitz was a bit puzzled. She tweeted:

According to AAAS, io9 does not merit access to embargoed science news and they deactivated my Eurekalert account without explanation!

Newitz was also concerned, because she needed that access to cover stories this week. This is the email EurekAlert senior communications officer Jennifer Santisi sent her: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 22, 2011 at 11:55 am

Should big PR firms that represent drug companies also run scientific societies’ media operations?

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There’s a brewing embargo story that is making me mad this week. I’ll say more about that in a bit. But in digging into it, I found what I think is a bigger story.

It turns out that Cohn & Wolfe, one of the world’s largest premier PR and communications firms, is running the press office at the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) conference that starts at the end of the month.

That made me curious. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 9, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Heads up, reporters: Press officers for a number of UK and European scientific societies are cleaning their embargo lists

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Journalists take note: Emma Mason and Mary Rice, who run press operations for a number of European scientific societies, are cleaning up their reporter databases:

We are re-organising our media databases for 2011 to ensure that: a) they only include journalists who want to be on them, b) that you are receiving information on the areas you are interested in, and c) everyone who is on our databases has agreed to abide by our embargoes.

Journalists can find out more at the RiceMason site.

The move is partly in response to discussions on Embargo Watch, Mason told me on Twitter, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Things I like: EORTC-NCI-AACR symposium embargo policy, Lancet apology

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There are lots of examples of embargo policies I dislike here on Embargo Watch. But I’ve been finding things to like lately, so much so that a loyal Embargo Watch reader told me my friends are worried about me.

Well, friends, I’ve found two more.

First up, an elegant and simple policy for an upcoming European Organisation for the Treatment of Cancer-National Cancer Institute-American Association for Cancer Research symposium. This went out this morning from Emma Mason, whose name has appeared regularly on Embargo Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 28, 2010 at 9:30 am

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Menopause study embargo lifted early after Sunday Times story, but Jonathan Leake notes abstracts were freely available

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Ah, vacation. That protected time when you don’t check your email or voicemail, and you don’t blog. Well, I kept to that last bit, anyway, while traipsing around Turkey and trying unsuccessfully to avoid Turkish Viagra.

But embargo news doesn’t stop in its tracks just because Embargo Watch is on vacation. In the next few days, I’ll use posts to catch up on that news.

First up: On Sunday, European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) press officer Emma Mason sent out the following message: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 30, 2010 at 9:15 am

So what does it take to get an embargo lifted early?

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Last week, the International Smart Tan Network, which calls itself “the educational institute for the North American indoor tanning community,” put out a press release criticizing a study in the American Association of Cancer Research’s (AACR) Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention that found a higher risk of melanoma among those who used indoor tanning beds. (The press release, as it turned out, cited a guest blog post on relative and absolute risks I wrote earlier this month for the Association of Health Care Journalists’ Covering Health blog.)

The press release named the study’s lead author as well as its name, cited data from it, and even used direct quotes from it. Oddly, the release did not name the journal, instead referring to it as the “June issue of American Association for Cancer Research,” which is not a journal at all.

All of this about a day and a half before the study’s embargo was scheduled to lift.

This seemed like a pretty clear embargo break to me, and the release had wide distribution, so I asked the AACR whether they’d be lifting the embargo early. Associate director of public affairs Michele Leiberman responded: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 1, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

No sanctions, but Straits Times perpetrator “taken to task” over overtime-heart disease embargo break

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The embargo break earlier this week of a study in the European Heart Journal linking overtime to heart disease was unintentional, and there will be no sanctions against the breaker, the Straits Times. That’s according to an email just sent out by Emma Mason, who handles press for the journal and others published by Oxford University Press:

I have now had time to properly investigate the circumstances surrounding the broken embargo on the European Heart Journal story earlier this week (overtime and heart disease). Having talked to AFP it has become clear that it was not their fault. Their story was put out with the correct embargo on it, but one of their clients, Straits Times (Singapore), made a mistake and published the story early. AFP have spoken to Straits Times over this; ST have assured AFP that it was a mistake, that the perpetrator has been taken to task about it, and the rest of the team has been reminded about the fact that “embargoes are sacred”.

In view of the fact that a) it was not AFP’s fault, and b) they have had discussions with Straits Times, I have decided to take no further action over the embargo break.

I have to ask: Given that this was Singapore, was caning involved? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 13, 2010 at 2:01 pm

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Straits Times breaks European Heart Journal embargo with an AFP story, this one on overtime and heart disease

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This just in from Emma Mason, who handles press for a number of Oxford University Press journals including the European Heart Journal:

Due to an embargo break by AFP, I am lifting the embargo on the EHJ press release on overtime and heart disease with immediate effect. It had been embargoed go 00.05 hrs BST on Wednesday 12 May, or 23.05 hrs GMT on Tuesday 11 May. I have pasted the press release below to help you identify it.

I will let you know in due course about the action to be taken against AFP.

My apologies for the inconvenience that I know this will cause you.

Here’s the AFP story, via the Straits Times. And here’s my colleague Ben Hirschler‘s version for Reuters, posted after Emma lifted the embargo.

The agency may be in for sanctions. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 11, 2010 at 8:46 am

AFP breaks European Heart Journal embargo on chocolate and blood pressure study

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The AFP broke an embargo yesterday on a study in the European Heart Journal suggesting that people who eat dark chocolate may have a lower risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. The study, whose press release took advantage of the seasonal timing and started with “Easter eggs and other chocolate may be good for you,” was embargoed until 5 minutes past midnight London time today, Wednesday, March 31, but the wire service’s version of the story went out yesterday morning, when at least one site ran it. (That site was in Belgium, known of course for its chocolate.)

In response, Emma Mason, who handles media for a number of Oxford University Press journals including the European Heart Journal, lifted the embargo in an email sent out at 5:43 a.m. London time yesterday, while the circumstances of the break were still unclear. This morning, she sent an email to her press list: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

March 30, 2010 at 10:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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