Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

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

with one comment

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, was that TechCrunch had already posted a story on Amazon’s new $139 Kindle, despite the fact that the embargo on the announcement wasn’t scheduled to lift until 8 p.m. Pacific Time.

Based on the first comment on the TechCrunch story, the item appears to have been posted at some point before 8:10 UTC, which is currently four hours ahead of East Coast time. That means they jumped the embargo by at least seven hours — an eternity in tech news on the web.

There’s even a hint of the fact that they posted the item before the embargo lifted, in one commenter’s gripe that the piece didn’t link to product information. Those links were only live later, the author wrote back — in other words, once the embargo had lifted.

But Amazon didn’t lift the embargo early, which left Wired.com and lots of other sites sitting on their hands until later last night.

Those of you who have followed TechCrunch founder and co-editor Michael Arrington’s well-known self-described rants on embargoes are probably not surprised by this episode. In a nutshell: “From this point on we will break every embargo we agree to.” (Mike also said he would publish “a blacklist on TechCrunch listing every firm, company, publication and individual writer involved whenever an embargo is broken,” which I can’t seem to find. If anyone has a URL, I’d love to see it.)

So if anyone still gives TechCrunch embargoed material, they’re doing so knowing full well that it won’t stay private for long. That’s up to companies and PR agencies, many of whom evidently think losing the embargo’s control is still worth placement on the site, according to TechCrunch. Caveat emptor.

But what’s not as justifiable is leaving an embargo in place once a major media outlet — and in tech, there’s no arguing that TechCrunch isn’t one — has published something on it. Lots of other sites had of course picked up the item, but if media outlets wanted access to Amazon’s embargoed releases in the future, they had to hold their fire.

The question, of course, is how long media outlets will put up with that.

I contacted Amazon for comment, and will update with whatever I hear back.

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Good for them. Maybe I will buy a Kindle now!

    David Levine

    July 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm


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