Following heavy criticism, FDA says controversial embargo policy is “not to be used under any circumstance”
Several months after a damning expose demonstrating that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was violating its own official policy by using a controversial embargo practice, the agency has said it will no longer use so-called “close-hold embargoes.”
Such embargo agreements restrict whom reporters can talk to before embargoes lift, unlike standard embargoes in which journalists can share information for comment as long as their sources understand it is under embargo. I’ve called this an attempt to turn reporters into stenographers.
In a letter today to the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), outgoing FDA Acting Assistant Commissioner for Media Affairs Jason Young acknowledges that at times, the agency’s policy “was not adequately followed.” And Young — whose last day at the FDA is today, ahead of the Presidential inauguration — writes (bolding his) that Read the rest of this entry »
On Tuesday, Vox posted what I called my “embargo manifesto.” I’ve been pleased to see it generate substantial discussion, including disagreement and criticism, on social media. And I’m also pleased to present this guest post from Brian Reid, a former reporter for Bloomberg who’s now a director at PR/communications firm W2O, responding to the piece.
Reading Ivan Oransky’s well-thought out missive against the use of embargoes in scientific and medical communication reminded me of the Winston Churchill chestnut about democracy: It’s the worst form of government, except for all of the others. The embargo system, in which vetted reporters receive additional time to assess and report complex information, in return for agreeing not to publish before a certain time, is also the worst system, except for all of the others.
In Oransky’s view, the current system encourages hype, discourages context and empowers journals and corporations to the detriment of reporters and, particularly, their audiences. Much of that criticism is spot-on.
But what would the world of medical reporting look like if embargoes went away? Certainly different, but probably not better. Here’s what you’d get every Wednesday at 5 p.m. (when the New England Journal of Medicine goes public): Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve finally done it: My embargo manifesto is live.
Today, Vox — thanks to Eliza Barclay and Julia Belluz — published “Why science news embargoes are bad for the public.” In its 2,000-plus words, I try to distill my thinking on embargoes, the Ingelfinger Rule, and the system that’s evolved around media coverage of science.
The Lancet lifted an embargo early on Thursday, following a break.
From an email sent out to The Lancet press list at 7:02 a.m. UK time Thursday morning: Read the rest of this entry »
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) lifted the embargo early Friday on a paper scheduled for release today, after a university jumped the gun with a press release.
From a note sent to the PNAS media list Friday: Read the rest of this entry »
A number of science journalists may be breathing a big sigh of relief this afternoon, if they check their inboxes.
Nineteen days after going dark because it was hacked, the embargoed section of the EurekAlert! press release service is back online.
The site was taken offline late on the night of September 13 because of an “aggressive attack on September 9” in which usernames and passwords were compromised. Eventually, two embargoed press releases went out prematurely.