Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

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Did NASA follow its own code of conduct in announcing the arsenic bacteria study? (Hint: No)

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I’ve tried to stop writing about NASA’s non-alien arsenic bacteria, I really have. But as Michael Corleone said in The Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”

This afternoon, Denise Graveline — who knows a thing or two about embargoes and media relations, having held leading communications and media roles at organizations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — pointed me to the “NASA Policy on the Release of Information to News and Information Media.”

Feel free to read that document at your leisure. When you do, you will find this section: Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Ivan Oransky

December 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm

An arsenic bacteria postmortem: NASA responds, tries to pit blogs vs. “credible media organizations”

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Last week, in the first of my posts on the NASA-Science-arsenic-non-alien-bacteria fiasco, AAAS director of public programs Ginger Pinholster left what I found to be an extremely thoughtful comment. In it, she reports on the findings of her team’s post-mortem (AAAS publishes Science). She concludes:  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Posted in nonalienembargo

Did you know you could have bet on the NASA arsenic-based bacteria find?

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Bookie at Sligo, by John Pickens via flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/pickens

In yesterday’s post about the NASA astrobiology embargo fiasco, I cited one of my favorite scenes from Casablanca:

…in which Captain Renault is “shocked, shocked” to find out that gambling is going on at Rick’s, only to be handed his winnings by a croupier.

Turns out, unlike some of the speculation about what NASA was set to announce, I was much closer to the truth than I imagined. From an email sent out yesterday: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 3, 2010 at 9:30 am

Science gets it (mostly) wrong again: My take on the NASA astrobiology paper

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courtesy Science

They’re apparently getting rid of narcissistic personality disorder in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (aka DSM-V). Until that book comes out in 2013, however, I’m free to say that I was hitting all the criteria this week as loyal readers sent out Twitter versions of “Let’s Go Embargo Watch” chants.

You see, it was only natural for my legions of fans to shine the EmBATgo Signal. After all, all hell had broken loose over the news that NASA was about to report in Science that they had discovered extraterrestrial life.

Wait, that isn’t what they’re reporting? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Greetings, Earthlings. Sorry to make you wait to talk NASA, but…

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That embargo lifts at 2 p.m. Eastern Thursday. Do check back then. In the meantime, as I tweeted earlier today:

In keeping w/ Embargo Watch practice, I won’t be posting on NASA until embargo lifts tmw. Hint: It’ll sound like this: http://bit.ly/ak6XYe

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 1, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A tipping point? Nature angers science journalism corps with short Kennewick Man embargo

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cover_natureIt took 9,000 years for the remains of Kennewick Man to be found in 1996, nearly a decade of legal wrangling with the government for scientists to gain the rights to study him, and almost another decade for researchers to reveal his secrets.

But this week Nature, in a move that irritated a number of leading science journalists, decided that the news just couldn’t wait several more days so that reporters would have time to digest the details of what one journalist accurately described as “an incredibly complicated subject.”

As usual, we’ll leave the analysis of the results to the stories by journalists focused on the paper itself. Here’s some of the abstract, to provide a bit of context: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Anger, confusion as Popular Science inadvertently broke blue planet embargo

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Ethan Siegel was not pleased last Wednesday: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 15, 2013 at 9:00 am

Another chink in the Ingelfinger armor? Arsenic life talk forces Science to release paper early, without embargo

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Rosie Redfield

As this post goes live, so too go live two Science papers refuting the heavily criticized “arsenic life” paper published in the journal in 2010. (If you’re not familiar with the findings, I’d recommend Carl Zimmer’s excellent work on this subject, which he gathers here. You can read about the various embargo issues involving NASA and Science here.)

Embargo Watch readers may realize there’s something unusual about that.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Posted in nonalienembargo

Astronomy meeting reveals the real problem with the Ingelfinger Rule

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Eris and Dysnomia, courtesy NASA

Embargo Watch readers have probably noticed by now that I’ve become far more concerned about the role of the Ingelfinger Rule in controlling the flow of scientific information than I am with embargoes per se. I’m still exasperated with inconsistent and bizarre embargo policies, but it’s the specter of Ingelfinger that I think looms larger.

So I went on high alert last week when Emily Lakdawalla, a blogger for the Planetary Society and winner of the Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award, sent me this tweet:

@ivanoransky I thought of you today when B. Sicardy presented cool Eris results @DPS mtg today but said we can’t discuss b/c Nature embargo

I asked for more details, saying that didn’t sound consistent with Nature‘s embargo policy, which explicitly states that scientists can present at meetings, even if journalists are present, as long as they don’t court reporters’ attention.

Emily responded: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 12, 2011 at 9:39 am

Science lifts dinosaur feathers study after Asahi Shimbun breaks embargo

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From an email that went out about 10:30 Eastern this morning to Science‘s press list:

The AAAS Office of Public Programs is lifting the embargo, effective immediately, on the article “A Diverse Assemblage of Late Cretaceous Dinosaur and Bird Feathers from Canadian Amber” by R.C. McKellar and colleagues, because this information has become publicly available. The embargo on the related Perspective, “Fossilized Feathers,” by M.A. Norell is lifted as well. Both articles are being published in the 16 September issue of Science and will be available
at sciencemag.org later today.

A summary of the article follows, and a copy of the manuscript is available at http://www.eurekalert.org/jrnls/sci/. The embargo is being lifted so that reporters may freely publish their coverage now. The rest of this week’s SciPak content will remain under embargo until 2 pm US ET today, 15 September.

Science‘s press office tells Embargo Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized