Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

“I accidentally broke an embargo and it was all Hurricane Sandy’s fault”

with 2 comments

John Platt is a good guy, and a talented writer and reporter. I know that because I offered him the chance to bring his blog Extinction Countdown over to ScientificAmerican.com when I was running that site. So when he emailed me yesterday with the subject line that makes up the title of this post, I wanted to give him the chance to tell the story of how he accidentally broke the embargo — thanks, Hurricane Sandy! — on a new paper about “the world’s rarest whale.”

Augh, I broke an embargo this morning on this story for Scientific American.

I wrote this article last week and had it queued up to publish at noon today, when the embargo was scheduled to lift. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy had an impact on a few computer servers, meaning they had not been adjusted for Daylight Savings Time this past weekend . As a result, the article published at 11am, an hour ahead of the embargo.


This is officially the least disastrous consequence of Hurricane Sandy, from which all too many of my friends and family are still struggling to recover. But I still feel bad about it.

Of course he does. But he really shouldn’t, if this week’s embargo breaks are any indication.


Written by Ivan Oransky

November 6, 2012 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Yup, sorry, Monday was the first time offices opened and (most of) staff managed to get in. I guess they were overwhelmed, catching up on a lost week, and did not get to changing time on blogs in time. As the network blogs are “locked” at EST, the whole network does not automatically switch to EDT (or back) and that has to be done manually. Sorry.

    Bora Zivkovic

    November 6, 2012 at 9:33 am

  2. There’s no fault here — it happened and we got a slightly funny story out of it!

    John R Platt (@johnrplatt)

    November 6, 2012 at 10:28 am

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