Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

More weirdness around a Pew embargo, this time over broadband report

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Last week, I blogged about a bit of a “he said, she said” in which the Pew Charitable Trusts accused USA Today of breaking an embargo on a report on drug safety, but then didn’t seem that upset about it, probably because it wasn’t entirely clear what time the embargo actually lifted.

Today, on mediabistro’s FishBowlDC, here’s another difficult-to-parse embargo snafu involving Pew, Politico, and the Trust’s high-profile annual report on broadband use:

Politico published the story one day before the embargo was supposed to be lifted, causing upheaval among reporters around town who had been working on long-term pieces.

Pew wasn’t thrilled either.

In fact, Pew was upset, as it was described to FishbowlDC. But, funny, when we asked Pew, notoriously sensitive about its PR, if it was upset about the broken embargo, the researcher who wrote the report, Aaron Smith, declined to comment, saying the affair had been handled internally and was over. Smith, however, did apologize in an e-mail obtained by FishbowlDC, saying Politico was supposed to honor the embargo rules like everyone else.

The Pew materials said “for Thursday a.m. publication,” which sounds a lot like the vague embargo the Trusts put on the drug safety report. Politico posted their story Wednesday morning, which was before an online version of a Thursday print story would have run. (That’s what happened with USA Today last week.)

Tony Romm, the Politico reporter who wrote the story, tweeted Wednesday:

I have done more harm than good today, and I’ve only been at work for 29 minutes. This can’t go well.

Suggestion for Pew: Put a time on your embargoes. Unless  you want to end up with a Groundhog Day embargo.

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 12, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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