Tech journalists question future of embargoes

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

At last week’s “Embargo 2010: An Industry Conversation on Future Rules of Media Engagement,” tech journalists convened to discuss the viability of embargoes in an increasingly fluid media universe.

arrington
TechCrunch founder and editor Michael Arrington. Photo by jdlasica via Flickr.

Update: Follow the debate as it evolves on Twitter, either on this handy site or with the #embargo2010 hashtag.

The discussion seems to have been spurred by the anti-embargo grandstanding of TechCrunch founder and editor Michael Arrington, who canceled a planned appearance on the panel despite his well-publicized penchant for breaking embargoes. Threatened by embargo scofflaws like Arrington, many seemed to believe the embargo system was on its way out, and they saw a number of possible replacements. The consensus centered around two options:

  • Press conferences: This is already the prevailing model in the UK. Everyone gets the information at once, though a big conference is announced, there’s a general impression that somebody, somewhere will find a way to get the info early anyway. The downside, of course, is that folks don’t get as much time to prep their reports.
  • Exclusives: For the lucky outlet, exclusives are great. They get plenty of time to prepare and a jump on the story. They’re not as popular with everyone else, for obvious reasons.

Update: Read BayNewser’s E.B. Boyd’s recap (complete with photos) here. Boyd emphasizes the interplay between public relations professionals and journalists.

Tech versus health

Web PR man Shel Holtz rebuts Arrington’s anti-embargo stance, claiming that tech journalism is a special case and that, in other arenas (he specifically cites health journalism), they are going nowhere. His post includes audio from an embargo-related conversation with Mayo Clinic media relations chief Karl Oestreich.

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