Tag Archives: embargoes

AHCJ objects to FDA’s ‘close-hold embargoes,’ requests explanation

Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's treasurer and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

Image by Logan Campbell via flickr.

Image by Logan Campbell via flickr.

AHCJ is protesting the Food and Drug Administration’s recent restrictive practices in handling news embargoes and has asked the agency for clarification of its policies.

In an Oct. 11 letter to Jason Young, the FDA’s acting assistant commissioner for media affairs, AHCJ President Karl Stark raised strong objections to the practice of providing embargoed information on the condition that reporters refrain from seeking outside comment until the embargo lifts. Continue reading

EurekAlert! is back, but do you really need it?

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

When the EurekAlert! press release service was taken down on Sept. 13 after being hacked, there was a discussion about how much journalists rely on embargoes — and whether those standard practices should continue. A post at Embargo Watch succinctly summarized the pros and cons of abandoning the embargo system, leading to a robust dialogue in the comments section.

With EurekAlert! back up as of Oct. 3, it’s likely back to business as usual for those who relied on the service extensively. Continue reading

Embargoed bedbug study comes with a bite

Brenda Goodman

About Brenda Goodman

Brenda Goodman (@GoodmanBrenda), an Atlanta-based freelancer, is AHCJ’s topic leader on medical studies, curating related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on medical study resources and tip sheets at brenda@healthjournalism.org.

Image by UGA College of Ag via flickr.

Recently, as part of a package of studies sent to reporters in advance of their annual meeting, the American Chemical Society put out an embargoed press release on a study of bedbug genes.

The study details how researchers at the University of Kentucky surveyed the entire genomes of 21 different bedbug populations collected from large cities in the Midwest.

They discovered that 14 genes work in various combinations to thwart a type of chemical that has commonly been used to kill the blood-sucking critters. What’s even more fascinating is that most of these genes are found in the insects’ tough outer shell, or cuticle. They code for proteins that pump the chemicals out of their bodies or break their molecular bonds, rendering the agents harmless.

Bedbugs, perhaps more than other insects, are masters at becoming resistant to the chemicals we use to try to kill them. That’s thought to be a major reason why they have made a comeback in homes and hotels across the country. This study went a long way toward showing why they’re so hardy and how we might be able to develop better methods to control them in the future.

The problem is that this all sounds a bit familiar to regular readers of Scientific Reports, a research publication from the publishers of Nature.

Scientific Reports published the same research on March 14. Continue reading

JAMA editor predicts embargoes will be up for discussion

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

This is a guest post by AHCJ board member and AP medical writer Carla K. Johnson, who leads AHCJ’s Chicago chapter.

Howard Bauchner, M.D., is editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association

Howard Bauchner, M.D., editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association discussed health care reform in light of the elections. (Photo: Carla K. Johnson)

Howard Bauchner, M.D., editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, spoke to about 25 journalists and students at a recent AHCJ Chicago chapter event hosted by JAMA at its Chicago office.

“I don’t think we’ve settled the debate in the United States about whether health care is a fundamental right or a fundamental privilege,” Bauchner said in response to a question about doctors’ views on the Affordable Care Act. “And it’s been striking to me that the president has avoided that issue.”

Bauchner added: “That goes to the heart about why physicians are very divided about it.”

Bauchner talked about embargoes, the debate over open access to medical research and the online integration of the 10 medical journals in the JAMA Network.

He said he expects embargoes to be discussed at the May retreat of the JAMA editorial board. He’ll bring the board information on what other journals are doing, he said, and he’ll pose the question, “How does audio and video change any notion that embargoes should exist?” He said he’ll seek opinions from journalists, too.

Chicago-area journalists gathered to hear from JAMA's editor. (Photo: Carla K. Johnson)

Chicago-area journalists gathered to hear from JAMA’s editor. (Photo: Carla K. Johnson)

Bauchner speculated: “We will continue to have embargoes. The exact, precise timing of it is a little less clear to me.”

During his discussion of embargoes, Bauchner wondered whether a certain blogger would get word of his comments.

“Who’s the embargo person who blogs all the time?” he asked.

Several voices in the audience chorused: “IVAN ORANSKY.”

Oransky is an AHCJ board member whose Embargo Watch blog keeps an eye on embargoes and how they affect news coverage.

The Chicago chapter thanks Jann Ingmire of the JAMA Network for her help organizing the event.

TV producer makes case for longer embargoes

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Bob Ray, a medical producer at WMAQ-Chicago, makes the argument that television journalists need more advanced notice on embargoed stories.

Ray, who shared his view in a guest blog posting for Newswise in June, says that cutbacks in television news mean that, at his station, they can only shoot video interviews once or twice a week.

It would be helpful if we had at least one week’s warning for the release dates of studies and reports. That way, we could interview the study authors, if practicable, or interview one of our local Chicago experts about the study, and then contact the study author by phone to answer any remaining questions.

Ray points out that also gives WMAQ a chance to send its video to the NBC syndication service, possibly giving Newswise clients more exposure. Newswise distributes news releases to journalists.

Television reporters: Do you agree or disagree with Ray’s suggestion? Are you finding it difficult to cover embargoed stories because you don’t have enough lead time?