Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Archive for April 2012

Think losing access to journals for breaking embargoes is bad? At least they don’t call the police

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Norwich City Club Stadium, by OliverN5 via Flickr

Journals can be somewhat vindictive when punishing embargo breakers, although more and more they seem to find ways to believe news organizations who say the breaks were accidental. But one UK football club this week went further than sanctions when a longtime fan broke the embargo on their starting lineup.

They called the police. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Ivan Oransky

April 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Ingelfinger soul-searching on the New England Journal of Medicine’s 200th birthday?

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Happy 200th birthday, New England Journal of Medicine.

The NEJM was born in 1812 — as the impossible-to-remember New England Journal of Medicine and Surgery and the Collateral Branches of Science — and stories have been appearing about the milestone in various news outlets since January. The journal also has its own commemorative site.

On Connecticut’s WNPR today, in the second in a two-part series on the occasion, I was interviewed about the journal’s legacy, and not surprisingly, the reporter picked out a comment I made on the artificial news pegs reporters assign to medical news: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Posted in nejm embargoes

Unclear on the concept? One freelancer’s frustrating experience with an AACR abstract embargo

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It may be unscientific to say that cancer research conferences have more than their share of embargo hijinks, but Embargo Watch readers would be forgiven for that impression. The meetings of the American Society of Cancer Oncology (ASCO) and American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) almost always spawn embargo breaks – sometimes by the organizations themselves.

With that history in mind, I’m pleased to present a guest post from Melinda Wenner Moyer , a former student of mine at New York University’s Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program who is now a highly regarded (and productive) freelancer. Melinda describes her exasperating experience with one company sponsoring research being presented this week in Chicago. (For reference, here’s the AACR’s conference embargo policy.)

Last Thursday, a news editor at a well-known medical journal, for whom I frequently work, asked if I would write an article about a new type of cancer drug. The piece was to be pegged on the results of a phase 2 clinical trial being presented on Monday at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting in Chicago. The topic piqued my interest, so I agreed and accepted a deadline of Wednesday.

But thanks to a pharmaceutical executive’s fundamental misunderstanding about the meaning of embargoes, the assignment has been more of a headache than I anticipated. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 4, 2012 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Did a NY Times reporter moderating a panel break an embargo? Or, what does “for planning purposes” mean?

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Late last week, I got an email from a science reporter who wondered whether the New York Times had been given an exclusive on news about which everyone else had agreed to an embargo. (This is not such a far-fetched idea, as Embargo Watch readers may recall.) The story, “New U.S. Research Will Aim At Flood of Digital Data,” had been written by reporter Steve Lohr, who would be moderating a panel following the announcement later that day.

The science reporter who emailed me knew that not because it was in Lohr’s story, but because it was in a media advisory from earlier in the week that seemed to have been embargoed.

Here are the relevant parts of the media advisory, which came from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 3, 2012 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized