Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

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. It’s the second European Heart Journal break by AFP in just over a month. On March 30, they broke an embargo on a study suggesting that people who eat dark chocolate may have a lower risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. At that time, Emma called the break unintentional and said:

As this was a genuine accident and I have never had a problem with AFP intentionally breaking any of my embargoes, I have accepted this explanation but told them that, if it should happen again, then both I and the European Society of Cardiology will suspend them from our media databases for a period of six months. I have also said that I will let Eurekalert and Alphagalileo know of their explanation and the action that I have taken, as both websites have asked to be kept informed.

Will update as I hear more.

Update 9:40 a.m. Eastern, 5/11/10: Emma tells me by email that AFP put the story out on its wire with the correct embargo, but that Straits Times broke it, “followed by the usual stampede.” Emma says that she’s “extremely unhappy that this has happened again so soon after the previous one,” and is still in discussions with AFP and others about the best way forward.

Emma’s also got a question for Embargo Watch readers: Is it fair to punish AFP when it wasn’t their fault (this time)?

Let us know in the comments.


Written by Ivan Oransky

May 11, 2010 at 8:46 am

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