Embargoes, the NY Times, and the WHO

For the next two weeks, if you want news about the World Health Organization (WHO), you may have to consult sources other than __The New York Times__. According to an Email I just received from the WHO, the organization has suspended the __Times__ from its media distribution list for two weeks after the newspaper broke an embargo on a linkurl:story on measles deaths. ;http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/29/world/africa/29briefs-measles.html?_r=1&oref=slogin (They've dropped sharply, it turns out.) ''

Ivan Oransky
Nov 29, 2007
For the next two weeks, if you want news about the World Health Organization (WHO), you may have to consult sources other than __The New York Times__. According to an Email I just received from the WHO, the organization has suspended the __Times__ from its media distribution list for two weeks after the newspaper broke an embargo on a linkurl:story on measles deaths. ;http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/29/world/africa/29briefs-measles.html?_r=1&oref=slogin (They've dropped sharply, it turns out.) ''WHO communications staff have been asked not to brief any __New York Times__ reporters during this period on any stories that are scheduled to be released through the WHO email distribution list,'' the Email also reported. I'm sure the __Times__ will figure out a way to report on the WHO without the embargoed material. They're a newspaper. It's what they do. And two weeks isn't that long a period of time. What struck me was the public flogging. In recent...
According to an Email I just received from the WHO, the organization has suspended the __Times__ from its media distribution list for two weeks after the newspaper broke an embargo on a linkurl:story on measles deaths. ;http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/29/world/africa/29briefs-measles.html?_r=1&oref=slogin (They've dropped sharply, it turns out.) ''WHO communications staff have been asked not to brief any __New York Times__ reporters during this period on any stories that are scheduled to be released through the WHO email distribution list,'' the Email also reported. I'm sure the __Times__ will figure out a way to report on the WHO without the embargoed material. They're a newspaper. It's what they do. And two weeks isn't that long a period of time. What struck me was the public flogging. In recent months, I've received a number of notices from journals saying that an embargo was being lifted immediately -- eg early -- because a given news organization had broken it. Many didn't even say what publication had committed the break. I don't recall any that noted the punishment that would be meted out, and I certainly don't remember any organization sending out a special message whose only purpose was to inform journalists about such a punishment. I Emailed the WHO to find out if they had ever done so before; I'll let you know if they respond. The Email also reminded me that I linkurl:hate embargoes. ;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53112/ (I'm not the only one: See Vincent Kiernan's linkurl:recent book.) ;http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/97yhb3wm9780252030970.html We of course honor them at __The Scientist__; my hating them doesn't mean we break agreements under which we obtain material early from the WHO and journals. The __Times__ did, and the punishment is probably apt, and seems in line with other punishments groups have meted out. ''Breaches are a violation of this code of honour among journalists and between reporters and their sources,'' said the WHO. But perhaps it's time to revisit whom this ''code of honour'' is serving. If it's not the reading public, it may be time for embargoes to go.

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