Astronomy press officer: “embargoes are becoming less and less practical”
Embargo Watch readers are probably familiar with a lot of arguments against embargoes at this point, mostly about how they can restrict the flow of scientific information and give journals and other institutions too much control. But what about how practical they are for press officers who create them?
Last Wednesday, a longtime space writer email emailed Rick Fienberg, the press of officer and director of communications for the American Astronomical Society (AAS), confused about an embargo.
The AAS had passed along an embargoed European Space Agency (ESA) release about Hubble news for 9 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, August 15. But EurekAlert had the same news embargoed for 7 p.m. Eastern on the 14th.
It turned out one of several institutions involved in the release had mixed up the time, which the ESA had EurekAlert fix. But that fix didn’t happen until after a site that publishes press releases had already posted an item on it. So the ESA had that site take down the post, and asked the space writer to honor the original embargo.
That embargo ended up holding. The whole episode made Fienberg wonder, however, whether embargoes were worth it:
With so many institutions involved in so many discoveries, and with so many distribution channels for press releases, and with so much content going online before being carefully edited, it seems to me that embargoes are becoming less and less practical.