Tag Archives: embargoes

Gimpyblog: A question of embargoes and science journalism

Embargoes on abstracts and publications from scientific conferences, in this case:

Journalists might not see the fuss here but scientific conferences are usually considered private events with great care taken over the ownership of data and the willingness of researchers to release it prior to publication.  Conference abstracts are often useful as they allow different groups of researchers to see if anyone in their field is following the same lines of enquiry as them so collaborations can be arranged, if these were to retreat behind security measures then it would make things a little bit more difficult for everybody.

Gimpyblog begins this debate of the purpose and sanctity of embargoes in journalism following accusations of embargo breaking against Sunday Times journalist Jonathan Leake – and posts defending his actions. You can read the back story here on Roy Greenslade’s blog, but it’s worth reading the comments on Gimpyblog’s post about the role of embargoes in science journalism and beyond.

Full post at this link…

Complaint to PCC raises further criticism of Sunday Times’ environment coverage

According to a report in the Guardian yesterday, Simon Lewis, an expert on tropical on forests at the University of Leeds, has filed a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) about an article in the Sunday Times.

The article published on 31 January, which alleged that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had made mistakes in a report on global warming, was “inaccurate, misleading and distorted”, according to Lewis, who says he contacted the newspaper before the story was published and has since written letters and tried to leave comments on the website.

Questions have been raised by several bloggers over the Sunday Times’ environmental coverage – particularly following reports that the title had been banned from receive pre-publication releases from some scientific journals for breaking embargoes.

The article at the heart of Lewis’ complaint and those that resulted in bans for the Sunday Times from PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) and JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) were written by Jonathan Leake, who recently responded on blog Embargo Watch, saying he was unconcerned about the bans:

As you can see, these press officers have claimed they have banned us from their embargo system but this is rather misleading because we have a policy of not signing up to these embargo systems. Since we are not part of them we can hardly be banned. The press officers in question do know our position and I would suggest their statements are knowingly misleading.

Honouring embargoes

Perhaps a little frivolous to start a Monday morning with, but hey. Journalist to PR promoting new revolutionary social media software: “Yes, I’ll honour the embargo… for the rest of my working life.”

We understand that part 2 is on its way. Follow its creator tech journalist Steve O’Hear / @sohear for details. Strong language warning.

Reflections of a Newsosaur: ‘RIP, news embargoes’

Alan D. Mutter declares news embargoes ‘meaningless and unenforceable’:

“For those unfamiliar with the concept, newsmakers historically distributed press releases, speeches and other documents to the media prior to their official release so journalists had time to read them and prepare stories in advance. The idea was that the story would not be published or aired until the time specified in the embargo.”

Full story at this link…

Related: an upcoming event – ‘Embargo 2010: Industry Conversation on Future Rules of Media Engagement’ with SiliconValleyWatcher’s Tom Foremski, Mike Arrington from Techcrunch and Mark Glazer from NPR’s Media Shift, moderated by Sam Whitmore from Media Survey.

‘Leaking moon water is all Twitter’s fault,’ says BBC science correspondent

BBC science correspondent for the West Midlands David Gregory braves a ‘them and us’ post, blaming Twitter and bloggers for leaking the ‘water on the moon’ story ahead, hold your breath, of the embargo.

Journalists had been tipped off about the moon water announcement ahead of NASA’s big press conference by the journal Science, while another NASA release named the scientists taking part. With that information the bloggers predicted the scoop, leaving the 2000 chosen journalists behind.

Then, Gregory says the story was reported in the mainstream press in India, and picked up by the Times’ Delhi correspondent.

“Eventually the journal Science sees the cat is out of the bag, drop the embargo at 22.57 our time last night and all the British science journalists who’ve obeyed the embargo wake up to find they’ve missed one of the biggest days for the moon since we walked on it.”

Despite the headline, Gregory is not arguing that the embargo should be protected. In fact he says, the system is not working:

“[I]n these days of a global, 24-hour news media the process appears to be broken. You can’t shut up bloggers and you can’t shut down Twitter. The only thing that can go is the embargo system itself.”

Gregory doesn’t link to the blogger or Twitter rumours and cites the Indian press as the place the story went mainstream: does anyone know where it first broke online?

Full post at this link…

This post is embargoed until 12:55pm (GMT), Dec 18 2008

TechCrunch’s announcement that it will break every embargo it agrees to has caused something of a stir amongst PR and journo bloggers alike.

TC’s Michael Arrington explained the good, the bad and the ugly side of embargoed news releases:

“A lot of this news is good stuff that our readers want to know about. And we have the benefit of taking some time during the pre-briefing to think about the story, do research, and write it properly. When embargoes go right, we get to write a thoughtful story which benefits the company and our readers.

“But there’s a problem. All this stress on the PR firms put on them by desperate clients means they send out the embargoed news to literally everyone who writes tech news stories. Any blog or major media site, no matter how small or new, gets the email. It didn’t used to be this way, but it’s becoming more and more of a problem. As the economy turns south, PR firms are under increasing pressure to perform and justify their monthly retainers which range from $10,000 to $30,000 or more. In short, they have to spam the tech world to get coverage, or lose their jobs.”

Increased competition in the journalism industry is causing more and more embargoes to be broken, argues Arrington, creating ‘a race to the bottom by new sites’ and a climate in which, he says, TC can’t operate.

Certain ‘trusted’ companies and PR firms will continue to have their embargoes honoured by the site, but the hope is that by disregarding the rules firms will have to be more selective with who they break news to and clamp down on those repeat offenders breaking embargoes.

Arrington will also be posting a blacklist – now topped by TC – listing all firms and publications involved when an embargo is broken.

ReadWriteWeb has come back on Arrington’s decision, saying it will honour embargoes. While the site agrees that the press should get better at respecting them, RRW says embargoes give more outlets a chance to cover a story, providing multiple perspectives for readers.

“They give multiple blogs a chance to review a technology in depth, instead of making it a race (…) Embargoes lead to more total coverage than exclusives (…) Exclusives are the tactic of people with weak products and of reporters who compete better in bullying than in writing.”

Journalism.co.uk receives its fair share of embargoed news and releases – and has never knowingly broken any, because we want to cultivate good relations with tipsters, companies and PR firms.

This doesn’t mean we’ll cover everything that gets sent our way. We also know other journalism news sites will be getting much of the same info and agree this can make it more of a race to get the news out.

But from our perspective: we have two full-time journalists, so having good contacts with companies and PR is vital to our expanding our newsgathering.

However, as a twittered reply from @Daljit_Bhurji, founder of Diffusion PR, suggests, does the old-fashioned embargo model really work for online?

Reporting on our specialism – as I’m sure is the case with many other subject-specific publications – it’s increasingly apparent that the organisations/titles/companies we write about are becoming their own news sources. e.g. have their own press office, press release feed, blog/write about their own developments.

Sending an embargoed release about this info to us later isn’t a great help. Most of the time I’d rather learn about it if it’s covered in a blog-style like the BBC Editors blog or Guardian’s Inside blog.

We’re then free to dig deeper into that news if needs be and are given a direct line to the people behind it; or pass it on through another of our channels like Editors’ Pick.

Holding back the news tide with embargoes seems to go against the way information and news spreads online through links, official ‘leaks’ (as referred to above), blog networks etc.

What’s more it’s not just quote-unquote journalists covering news releases any more – is the industry expecting other writers and bloggers online to respect embargoes? It goes against the grain of the web.

Are embargoes redundant in the online age?