Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Archive for April 2010

It’s ASCO time: Cancer group announces its embargoed press program

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Ordinarily, you won’t catch me writing an item or story about a press release, or even based solely on a press release. In fact, I rail against such practices when it comes to clinical studies.

But here at Embargo Watch, there’s at least one release worth writing a post on: The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s, or ASCO’s. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Ivan Oransky

April 30, 2010 at 2:23 pm

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Ira Stoll’s take on the Laura Bush embargo imbroglio

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One of the things I want to do on Embargo Watch is encourage a conversation, and that will hopefully mean frequent guest posts like this one from Brian Reid of 6 Degrees PR. That’s particularly true of subjects outside of my core knowledge of science and medical journalism. The heated discussion of the Laura Bush memoir embargo this week, for example, demands comment.

With that in mind, here’s a guest post by Ira Stoll, my former colleague on the Harvard Crimson who now edits FutureOfCapitalism.com and is author of Samuel Adams: A Life — both of which you should check out.

It’s not just science news where attempted embargoes can collapse. The book publishing industry has offered a vivid example over the past few days with Laura Bush’s memoir, Spoken From The Heart, whose official release date is May 4.

On April 28, Politico’s Mike Allen wrote: “The New York Times has published an account based on a copy obtained at a bookstore, freeing POLITICO to report the contents of an embargoed hardback provided by the publisher,” which he proceeded to then do. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 29, 2010 at 2:51 pm

University of Leeds embargoes a paper that’s already online

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Yesterday, Hannah Isom, of the University of Leeds’ press office, sent out a release embargoed until 6 p.m. GMT (2 p.m. Eastern) today. The release was about a paper in Geophysical Review Letters on how quickly melting icebergs were causing the sea level to rise.

That seemed like a press release-worthy subject. There was only one problem: The paper (subscription required) was already online, listed in the journal’s “in press” table of contents.

I was a bit puzzled by that, so I checked in with Peter Weiss, public information manager at the American Geophysical Union, which publishes Geophysical Review Letters. He wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 28, 2010 at 2:00 pm

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Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine play the short embargo game

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On your mark, get set, report!

Should that be some journals’ motto when it comes to embargoes? A month ago, I noted a four-hour embargo at the New England Journal of Medicine. In that post, and in one that mentioned a nine-hour embargo at The Lancet, I wondered how exactly such short embargoes help reporters do a better job.

As the NEJM puts it in their embargo policy, their embargo “gives the media time to learn about a topic, gather relevant information, and interview authors and other experts so they can accurately report complex research findings.” The Lancet says that “a daily press release associated with the article in question will be released at least 24 hours before online publication.”

Well, to quote Ronald Reagan, “there you go again.”

Here’s part of an email from the NEJM sent at 4:09 p.m. Eastern on April 21, 2010: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 28, 2010 at 9:00 am

Another Global News site, Regina, sanctioned after budget embargo break

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Last week, I wrote about an a February 9 Budget Day embargo break by Global Edmonton that lost the network access to embargoed Government of Alberta material for the rest of this calendar year. This week, I came across a similar break at another Global station, Global Regina, in Saskatchewan.

As reported by Regina’s Leader-Post (owned by CanWest, as is Global News) last month about a March 24 post:

Due to what Global Regina is describing as a gap in its online training, the network broke the Saskatchewan government’s embargo when a story about the provincial budget appeared online about three hours before Finance Minister Rod Gantefoer began his budget address shortly after 2:30 p.m.

The story goes on: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 27, 2010 at 9:00 am

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A follow-up on an unusual embargo policy at the American Thoracic Society

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In one of the first Embargo Watch posts, I wrote about a policy at the American Thoracic Society’s American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Basically, the press can’t write about papers for two weeks while they’re freely available to any HighWire subscriber. Many hospitals and medical schools subscribe to HighWire, a Stanford University service that many publishers use to make electronic versions of their journals available. I found the policy unusual, as did some who commented on the post.

Still, one potential advantage, you might think, would be that the journal could send out embargoed material a whole two weeks before the embargo lifts. That’s a pretty long embargo window, which would allow reporters to gather outside interviews and context for their stories — one of the most common justifications for embargoes.

So I was surprised when an embargoed press release went out just two days ago about a study that was posted to the AJRCCM site on April 8. The press release went out at 11:19 a.m. Eastern time on April 20, embargoed until a minute past midnight today (Thursday) Eastern time. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 22, 2010 at 9:00 am

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Institute of Medicine lifts salt report embargo early after apparent Washington Post break

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The US Institute of Medicine (IOM) lifted an embargo early this morning on a report calling for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take a stronger stance on regulating salt in food.

In an email sent to reporters at 8:45 a.m. Eastern, the IOM said:

Due to an embargo break, the embargo has been lifted on the Institute of Medicine’s new report, Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intakes in the United States.  The report is attached and the news release is pasted below. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 20, 2010 at 11:07 am

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