65 minutes! NEJM breaks its own short embargo record — but it has an explanation this time
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: Today, NEJM clocked in with an embargo lasting just 65 minutes and 17 seconds.
At 3:54:43 p.m. Eastern, NEJM’s press office sent out a message saying that a study of stem cell models for particular heart rhythm disorder was embargoed until 5 p.m. They beat their own record.
That’s just over an hour to for the media “to learn about a topic, gather relevant information, and interview authors and other experts so they can accurately report complex research findings,” according to a passage from the NEJM’s embargo policy that Embargo Watch readers can probably recite from memory by now.
I called Karen Buckley, NEJM’s media relations manager, to ask about the short embargo. The Journal didn’t want to give reporters just over an hour, but issues related to their new website — launching in the next few days — made it difficult to post after 5 today.
“We are making efforts,” Karen told me. “We’re trying to work on our schedules to make sure this doesn’t happen. It’s easy to identify that it’s an issue, but it’s hard to figure out how to solve it.”
The Journal’s interest is sending studies to the media promptly so they can report on them, she said. “It’s not that we sat down and we said, ‘65 minutes is enough time.’ We’re really sorry that the media isn’t going to have enough time to digest the information.”
I’m sympathetic to technical issues, but it’s still just 65 minutes, as I told Karen. I also suggested that the email to reporters could have included some sort of “we wanted to give you more time message but couldn’t” to at least acknowledge the short embargo. But I appreciated NEJM’s openness, as always.
I might have to put an asterisk next to this one, sort of like Major League Baseball did for Roger Maris’ 61 home runs in 1961.