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RE: Press Embargoes: was RE: "T. rex had explosive growth spurt as a teen, study says"


As "press" myself, I'd say NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) are an
essential part of journalism - especially where the subject is difficult
or complex.  As a journalist, information is a pretty useless commodity
on its own - it needs context, clarification and balance, and you don't
get that in a taxi from the press conference to the office.  

If you get a release, and have to go to press with it right away, the
chances are you don't understand the ramifications of it fully, and even
if you do, all you've got is one side of it, so your work will be biased
and incomplete (a fact used in manipulating the media by scientists, PR
people and politicians alike!)

I'd say if you've got anything worth making public, choose a group of
journalists, and tell it to them in advance - their chance of getting
the next story depends on them keeping quiet until the release, but your
chance of getting a balanced public view of your work will be much

The journalists WILL want to seek out and get comments from your worst
critics, and they WILL be able to ask you much more difficult questions,
but if you're confident in your work, and your ability to explain it,
that should never be a problem.

Christian Darkin

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu] On Behalf
Of Richard W. Travsky
Sent: 11 August 2004 18:24
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: Re: Press Embargoes: was RE: "T. rex had explosive growth spurt
as a teen, study says"

On Wed, 11 Aug 2004, Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. wrote:
> > Does this preclude mention in the press? It does quote Greg
> > (you too in fact!)
> It doesn't preclude talking to the press about it; the embargo is ON
> The deal between scientific publications and the press is, basically,
> follow:
> *Reporters are given access to preprint versions of forthcoming
papers, so
> that they can read it and get comments by the researchers and by
> *This way, they can prepare stories for release when the embargo is
> *The technical journals benefit in getting widespread reports of their
> articles.
> *The press benefits by being able to have important timely articles.
> *Researchers benefit because they can show their name in the paper to
> friends, family, bosses... :-)
> Of course, the deal really only works if everyone promises to obey the
> rules.  Someone slipped in this case, and posted information ahead of
> In the immortal words of Homer (Simpson): D'oh!!
> >
> > The USAToday link has been pulled, as has one from the San Francisco
> > Chronicle, but these are still up
> But they shouldn't be, at least for another hour... :-S

Well, now New Scientist has it. Cat's out of the bag. Genie out of the
bottle. Rutabaga out of the cornfield...