Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Did this product announcement really need to be embargoed?

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So far on Embargo Watch, I’ve mostly focused on scientific information — journals or conferences, for example. (There have been exceptions.) But those are just a small percentage of all the embargoes in the world, as readers probably know.

If you cover technology or products of any kind, you’re probably subject to a constant deluge of press releases like this, which landed in my inbox early Monday morning:

Mobile Access Now Available for Essential  Evidence Plus

Physicians Able to Retrieve Medical Evidence from Smartphones

Hoboken, NJ – May 26, 2010 – Global scientific, technical, medical and scholarly (STMS) publisher Wiley-Blackwell today announced the that its evidence-based clinical decision support product, Essential Evidence Plus (EE+), is now accessible from mobile devices.  Physicians on the move can now easily find answers to challenging point-of-care questions from their iPhoneTM, IPod Touch®, AndroidTM, Blackberry® or other Smartphones.

And this was not just embargoed — it was “Strictly Embargoed” until 12:01 a.m. Eastern today. The release is now available here.

I don’t see anything wrong with sending out a press release about a new product or corporate development. It’s de rigeur and probably helps the flow of information. (I was even the subject of one exactly a year ago today, when Thomson Reuters announced my then-new gig.) And this product might well help doctors do what Wiley-Blackwell — which publishes lots of high-quality journals that we regularly cover — claims it will.

Minor point: I’m not quite sure agreeing to an embargo policy on journal studies means a reporter has agreed to an embargo on product announcements.

But embargoing news about a product like this cheapens embargoes, particularly for reporters who are already weary of them. In a smart post earlier this month, the Rockefeller University’s Joe Bonner quotes an item by Steve Safran:

If you have an interesting idea, I don’t care if you’re a company or a person. I will read it, write about it and share it. Just don’t tell me it’s “exciting” and don’t insist on an embargo. I love breaking one-way embargoes.

When too many things get embargoed, Peter’s crying wolf too much. I emailed the Wiley-Blackwell press office for comment yesterday, and will update if I hear back.

Hat tip to Denise Graveline — whom you should also follow — for pointing me to Joe’s post.

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 26, 2010 at 11:20 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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