Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

No, the AP didn’t break that sex-hypertexting teens embargo

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photo by kiwanja via flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiwanja/

The Associated Press ran a story early this morning on a topic that is likely to get some buzz:  “Sex, drugs more common in hyper-texting teens,” read their headline. But on Twitter, an alert Embargo Watch reader alerted me to the fact that the press release for that Case Western-led study, being presented at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting, was embargoed until 12:15 p.m. Eastern. (Why that release is now visible to the public will become clear below.)

So, was this an embargo break by the AP? (Full disclosure: The story’s byline belongs to a friend and former Association of Health Care Journalists board colleague, Mike Stobbe.) Or was Case Western trying to embargo something that wasn’t actually embargoed?

Turns out the study wasn’t embargoed when the AP’s story went live. Case Western — who responded immediately to Embargo Watch’s requests for an explanation — said they made a mistake. They thought the embargo was 12:01 p.m. ET, rather than 12:01 a.m., apologized profusely, and told me I could post on the story whenever I wanted.

Case Western also noted something I didn’t know about EurekAlert: Institutions only have 15-minute increments for an embargo, which means that 12:01 won’t work. Apparently, most releases that go through the service lift on the hour. That’s why the embargo was 12:15 instead of 12:01.

That brings to mind a question I’ve asked before:

Should EurekAlert… make sure the material they’re posting on behalf of clients is actually embargo-able if clients want it embargoed?

That’s probably not feasible, and EurekAlert says they don’t edit any releases. Still, isn’t there any way to stop this sort of thing?

Written by Ivan Oransky

November 9, 2010 at 11:43 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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