Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Archive for July 2010

Wired — and lots of other pubs — get TechCrunch’d on Amazon’s new Kindle

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You didn't read about it here first. Photo courtesy Amazon.com

A bit after 8 p.m. Eastern last night, Wired.com editor in chief Evan Hansen tweeted two words: “Embargoes suck.”

This is the sort of thing that probably occurs often to editors sitting on good stories, but Evan is not the sort of mad tweeter who sends out his every thought. (Please assume that I thought of your snarky response about a certain Embargo Watch blogger before I wrote that.)

What prompted Evan’s tweet, I learned after a brief exchange, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm

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How to get off the JAMA blacklist

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Steve Sternberg

One of the first Embargo Watch posts was about what happens after a reporter is accused by the Journal of the American Medical Association of breaking an embargo and ends up blacklisted, unable to get JAMA’s embargoed material ahead of publication. In that post, I highlighted The Detroit Free Press‘ Pat Anstett and TheStreet.com’s Adam Feuerstein, who lost their advance access privileges in 2002 and 2003, respectively, and haven’t gotten them back.

Last week, another member of the exclusive JAMA blacklist club got in touch: Steve Sternberg, now at USA Today. Steve’s story ends differently than Pat’s and Adam’s. Find out how he reversed the decision in his own words, with minor edits for flow as they were stitched together from a few emails: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 27, 2010 at 9:00 am

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What Wikileaks’ Julian Assange has to say about embargoes

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Wikileaks’ release of some 92,000 secret U.S. military documents on Afghanistan earlier today has the world abuzz. Wikileaks, for those of you who are unaware, has already made available a good deal of classified material, including, in April, a video of a 2007 American helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed two Reuters staffers.

You won’t read details of those 92,000 documents on Afghanistan on Embargo Watch, because I haven’t reviewed them. For those details, I’ll leave you to my better-informed colleagues at news organizations.

But there is an embargo angle here. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 25, 2010 at 11:51 pm

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Yet more on the International AIDS Society tenofovir anti-HIV microbicide incident

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Despite three different posts already about the response to a Financial Times story on Science study of a tenofovir-based microbicide gel designed to prevent HIV infection, it turns out there is at least one more angle worth mentioning: The International AIDS Society (IAS) conference, where the Science results were presented, practices a “freely available but embargoed” policy.

The IAS abstracts were available to the public last Saturday, July 17, but reporters who had agreed to the embargo policy for the conference couldn’t run with anything until each abstract was presented. Bloomberg’s Kristen Hallam pointed this out today on the Association of Health Care Journalists‘ listserv (again quoted with permission): Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 23, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

FT’s Andrew Jack’s account of tenofovir anti-HIV microbicide incident

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Earlier this week, I asked Andrew Jack of the Financial Times, whose story on Science study of a tenofovir-based microbicide gel designed to prevent HIV infection caused the journal to lift the embargo on it early, for his version of the incident’s events. As Embargo Watch readers know, AAAS/Science’s Ginger Pinholster did not find any evidence that the FT got the information about the study from their EurekAlert! service. However, the organizers of the International AIDS Society (IAS) conference — where the results published in Science were presented this week — claimed the FT’s story “went against the spirit of the conference embargo policy.”

Here is Andrew’s comment, which fills in lots of important details and also raises important questions about embargo policies and their implementation. Read from start to finish: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm

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65 minutes! NEJM breaks its own short embargo record — but it has an explanation this time

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I honestly didn’t think I’d see a new record in the short embargo race. The New England Journal of Medicine‘s under-two-and-a-half-hour record from last month had shaved just minutes off the last record, and it seemed unbeatable.

But never underestimate the world’s most prestigious medical journal: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm

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Update on Financial Times tenofovir microbicide anti-HIV gel embargo break

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The International AIDS Conference organizers have issued a statement on Monday’s story in the Financial Times about a study being presented at the conference and published in Science on a tenofovir-based microbicide gel designed to prevent HIV:

To date, the International AIDS Conference has operated in a spirit of trust, with an understanding of the ethical obligations of journalists with respect to the conference’s abstract and media embargo policy. We were therefore disappointed by the actions of the Financial Times, which went against the spirit of the conference embargo policy by publishing a story on the CAPRISA trial results in advance of the 13:00 CET, 20 July embargo. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 21, 2010 at 8:06 am

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Financial Times breaks embargo on Science tenofovir anti-HIV microbicide study

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As the International AIDS Conference in Vienna — and its attendant frenzy of news coverage — gets into full swing, the Financial Times broke the embargo today on a Science study of a tenofovir-based microbicide gel designed to prevent HIV. The paper’s embargo was scheduled to lift at 7 a.m. U.S. Eastern Tuesday (tomorrow).

At about 1:30 Eastern today, AAAS/Science sent out the following message: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm

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Why Wall Street analysts could write about NEJM lorcaserin study before the news media

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What happens when widely read Wall Street analysts email all of their clients with details about studies appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine before the embargo lifts? Will NEJM lift the embargo early, or force reporters who’ve agreed to their embargo to wait and face sanctions for breaking it?

That question is not merely academic. Yesterday, a day before the embargo on this week’s NEJM lifted, Geoff Meacham of JP Morgan sent an email to his clients that included the following: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm

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How the U.S. Army is like some medical journals

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I’ve been writing somewhat frequently, it seems, about journals and medical societies that insist on embargoing information that is already freely available. It’s a puzzling practice, to me and others.

But a news story last week caught my eye, and suggests it’s possible that these organizations are taking a cue from a far afield: The U.S. military. The New York Times reported:

Carol Rosenberg, who was barred along with three other journalists from reporting on the Guantánamo military commissions after she identified an Army interrogator whose name was already public, will return to cover hearings next week, her lawyer said Friday. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized