Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Archive for October 2011

Astronomy meeting reveals the real problem with the Ingelfinger Rule

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Eris and Dysnomia, courtesy NASA

Embargo Watch readers have probably noticed by now that I’ve become far more concerned about the role of the Ingelfinger Rule in controlling the flow of scientific information than I am with embargoes per se. I’m still exasperated with inconsistent and bizarre embargo policies, but it’s the specter of Ingelfinger that I think looms larger.

So I went on high alert last week when Emily Lakdawalla, a blogger for the Planetary Society and winner of the Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award, sent me this tweet:

@ivanoransky I thought of you today when B. Sicardy presented cool Eris results @DPS mtg today but said we can’t discuss b/c Nature embargo

I asked for more details, saying that didn’t sound consistent with Nature‘s embargo policy, which explicitly states that scientists can present at meetings, even if journalists are present, as long as they don’t court reporters’ attention.

Emily responded: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 12, 2011 at 9:39 am

Vicks VapoRub: What not to do in a PR campaign

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On Friday, a large box arrived in our office, addressed to a Reuters Health stringer. It contained:

  • A Vicks VapoRub Snuggie (I’m pictured in it to the right)
  • Chicken soup mix
  • A scented candle
  • Green tea packets
  • Tissues
  • Vicks-branded slippers

This was all part of an effort to promote Vicks’ “Feel Better Friend!” application on Facebook. Goofy and questionable, but so are a lot of packages we get for consumer products.

But as the TV pitchman would say, wait, there’s more. (And in case you were wondering, no, there’s no embargo angle here. I just couldn’t figure out a way to write a long post with a headline and pictures on my Tumblr.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Embargoes and the Ingelfinger Rule: My presentation to SWINY

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The SWINY social logo

Last Monday, I had the pleasure of serving on a panel on embargoes for Science Writers in New York (SWINY). I was joined by Steve Sternberg of US News and World Report, Neda Afsarmanesh of Nature, and Elaine Larson of the American Journal of Infection Control for what I found to be a provocative and open discussion of one of my pet topics.

Here are my slides from the event, which build on previous presentations I’ve given as my thought process evolves. As I’ve tried to make clear, my problem isn’t with embargoes, as long as they’re consistent. It’s with the way the Ingelfinger Rule makes scientists reluctant to speak to reporters (scroll down for the slide control panel): Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 3, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized