Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Well, it’s happened: Reuters Health accidentally breaks JCO embargo

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After more than two-and-a-half years of Embargo Watch, it was bound to happen.

Yesterday, the team I lead at Reuters Health unintentionally broke the embargo on a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO), in a story titled “Early end-of-life talks tied to less aggressive care.” We set to the story to post at the JCO’s regular embargo time of 4 p.m. Eastern on Monday, but the study was actually embargoed until 4 p.m. today because of the Veteran’s Day holiday in the U.S.

ASCO, which publishes the JCO, sent this to reporters about an hour ago:

MEDIA ALERT – EMBARGO BREAK ON  JCO END-OF-LIFE CONVERSATIONS STUDY

Due to an embargo break, the Journal of Clinical Oncology has lifted the embargo on the study, Associations Between End-of-Life Discussion Characteristics and Care Received Near Death: A Prospective Cohort Study, by Mack et al.

The study was previously under embargo until 4:00 PM (EST) today, November 13. Reporters are now free to publish stories on this study.

That message followed one to a member of the Reuters Health staff earlier today, asking us what had happened. That was the first we’d realized we’d broken the embargo. Here’s what we told ASCO:

Thanks for your email. It does look as though we’ve broken this embargo, unintentionally. We had JCO in our editing system for Monday at 4pm ET as usual, and didn’t catch the change due to the holiday. We’re very sorry about this error.

This is the first embargo break by Reuters Health since I took over the team in June 2009, and my understanding is that it had been years since any breaks at that point. We cover some 500 embargoed studies per year for our consumer service, and roughly the same number for our professional news service, for health care professionals.

We regret the error, even unintentional, and apologize to JCO and other news organizations who upheld the embargo. We will do everything we can to ensure that our embargo break-free streak gets back to what it was before yesterday, and gets even longer.

Written by Ivan Oransky

November 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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