Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

What’s going on at the Cell press office?

with 3 comments

Buried in an August 4 post about a short Cell Metabolism embargo was the fact that Cell Press employed a grand total of one press officer for their 28 journals.

Well, now they employ none.

Embargo Watch learned this week that press officer Cathleen Genova left at the end of October. There’s someone with other responsibilities filling in, but none of the Cell journals have been updated on EurekAlert — which Cell uses to press release their content — since then.

Apparently, an internal audit showed that very few people are using the Cell page on EurekAlert, so the publisher is evaluating its strategy. Whether that means they’ll stop embargoing content, embargo less of it, or do something altogether different is unclear.

I contacted the person filling in for Genova for comment, but haven’t heard back. [See update at the end of this post.]

Oddly, Cell Press put out a release just last week titled “Cell Press delivers the news:”

Announcing Cell DNA — Daily News Aggregator: A free daily news aggregation service in the life sciences

And I should also note that over at our sister blog, Retraction Watch, we don’t tend to have a lot of luck getting calls back from Cell editors.

Update, 9:15 p.m. Eastern, 11/23/10: Lisa Lyons, who has been filling in for Genova, responded today:

I have taken over most of Cathleen’s duties and I am not sure if she will be replaced by anyone else.

We are always evaluating processes, but would like to offer all research papers to press for coverage under embargo. Things should be back to normal this week.

I’ll keep an eye on this. Please let me know about your experiences working with Cell Press.


Written by Ivan Oransky

November 19, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Unfortunately, what it probably means is that Cell Press will continue to embargo news, but PIOs won’t get the advance notice that we need to write releases in a timely manner.

    Too bad that Cathleen’s gone. She was a gem as Cell’s sole press officer: she replied promptly to queries and was always cheerful.

    Joe Bonner

    November 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm

  2. The news Cell is putting out, as advertised in their release, seems to have little to do with the journals’ articles. Maybe they’re trying to target a science audience with news from other journals? I see two PR feeds (EurekAlert and ScienceDaily). A bad link on a story about a computer worm to sabotage nuclear centrifuges shows they may be seeking a revenue stream by recycling other’s content in a “news” feed that carries ads. http://www.pheedo.com/

    I have also benefited from Cathleen’s help in getting the most up-to-date information for stories I have written.


    November 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm

  3. As a PIO at UC Berkeley, I just had a puzzling experience with Cell Press. The researchers were told the study would be published in Current Biology on March 8, 12:01 GMT. When I tried to post a press release to Eurekalert embargoed for that time, I was told that journal’s embargo time is noon EST on the date of publication, so they would need confirmation if that had changed. I emailed Lisa Lyons for confirmation of the exact embargo time, but did not hear back. Left her a voicemail. Nothing. Emailed her boss. Again, no word. Researcher also sent her emails. Nada. Five or six days later, we get two emails: one telling me that the embargo time of noon EST is fixed, another telling the researchers that the study is off embargo and they are free to promote their study to the press. Utter confusion. I emailed back asking for clarification on their embargo policy, and copying Cell editors, and still have no explanation.

    Yasmin Anwar

    March 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm

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