Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

New embargo record, from NEJM: 38 minutes!

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nejmI’ve written it before, but I have to write it again: Never underestimate the New England Journal of Medicine.

The holder of the Embargo Watch Short Embargo Record, with an impressive 49 minutes, has shaved another 11 minutes off its time. Today’s media list email, which went out at 4:22 ET:

April 11, 2013

To the Journal’s media subscribers:

We will publish the following material Online First at 5 PM ET TODAY (Thursday, April 11).

Embargoed until 5 PM ET Thursday, April 111

The full text of the following is now available on the NEJM Media Center.

Original Article: Human Infection with a Novel Avian-Origin Influenza A (H7N9) Virus
Yuelong Shu, Ph.D., National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing; and Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center, Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University, Shanghai ? both in China

Perspective: Global Concerns Regarding Novel Influenza A (H7N9) Virus Infections
Timothy M. Uyeki, M.D., M.P.H., M.P.P., the Influenza Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta

I will remind readers — and NEJM — of the stated purpose for the journal’s embargo policy:

There are two fundamental reasons for our embargo: it allows the media time to report accurately on complex and important new research findings, and it allows subscribers to read and understand the full reports in NEJM before media reports on them appear, which often leads patients to ask their physicians for interpretation and guidance.

38 minutes is plenty of “time to report accurately on complex and important new research findings,” right?

Or maybe this is more of an attempt to take advantage of reporters’ tendency to go “Squirrel!

A reminder to press officers everywhere: It’s OK to send out material without embargoes. Really. Especially if the studies are about a virus everyone is tracking.


Written by Ivan Oransky

April 11, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Posted in nejm embargoes

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