Tag Archives: press embargoes

Ricoh GXR camera details leaked online night before embargo

It seems that one of the theme’s over the last week or so is leaked news, in this case, details of Ricoh‘s GXR Interchangeable Unit Camera System. At one of the press launches, a select group of writers were given first sight of the new camera touted as “the world’s smallest and lightest digital camera with the ability to change lens”. Yesterday, I attended a second press view, only to discover that details of the camera were already flooding cyberspace. The link to online dpreview’s article on the Ricoh GXR has the embargo time clearly shown under the title as GMT.

At the Q & A, I asked Ricoh to confirm these reports which they did. It seems that one publication put details of the GXR online the night before the 06:00 next day embargo. This happened even though journalists were asked to sign Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). Ricoh couldn’t comment further as the matter is under investigation. However, this raises, once again, the question of how and why an embargo was broken. The article was pulled down by said publication as soon as it was made aware that the embargo was still in place. I found this on the UK government site Business Link about NDAs: “Once you sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), you have entered into a legally binding contract. This allows you to share ideas with business partners while preventing them from passing this information on. Unfortunately, the contract is only as good as the person signing it. If your partner breaches the contract, you can take them to court for damages, but this might be expensive and time consuming. It can also be difficult to quantify the damages.”

This makes me wonder: who is responsible in such situations, the media publication or the journalist who publishes the story? If it is a freelance journalist who breaks an embargo, having signed a NDA, who is then responsible, the freelance? How often are NDAs enforced? And what happens when NDAs are broken? In a digital world where publishing has changed so much, especially as information can be disseminated at the push of a button, are these types of contracts viable?

Any further examples, or thoughts, are always welcome.


News embargo broken on Prix Pictet 2009 winner – both parties respond

There are lots of points to consider in the light of the breaking of the news embargo announcing the winner of the Prix Pictet 2009 (22 October). However, I felt it important to ask and allow both parties to respond to my questions. In an age when  many people consider themselves to be journalists, it’s important not to lose sight of some basic journalistic principles, including the need to ensure that information is fair, accurate and honestly conveyed.

So far, the response from Jeanette Ward of Theresa Simon & Partners PR company, has circulated online only as reported by A Photo Editor. Both replies are posted below unedited:

Why was the news embargo in place? What was the purpose of the news embargo?
Jeanette Ward from Theresa Simon & Partners: “The news embargo of 21.00hrs (Paris, France) on 22 October 2009 was in place because the prize winner was to be announced at an awards event on the evening of 22 October. The nominees were not told in advance who had won. Naturally we did not want anyone at that event, which included the winner of the Prix Pictet 2009, Nadav Kander; the winner of the commission, Ed Kashi; and the majority of the ten other photographers nominated for the prize, to know who had won before it was officially announced by Kofi Annan. However, we did want to enable print media to report the winner the following day and for some broadcast media to put their pieces together with the winner in mind. For that to happen they needed to receive the information and images in good time for their deadlines earlier on 22 October, hence the early issue of the release with an embargo.

“It is disappointing that the embargo was broken, particularly for those directly involved in the event, many of whom would have had Blackberries with them, and for those friends, family and colleagues who might have been waiting to hear elsewhere in the world. However, a mistake was made: I thought that everyone on my media list was a journalist and would therefore understand the meaning of the embargo. In fact, A Photo Editor, told me on the telephone that he doesn’t describe himself as a journalist and he felt that he was spammed by our embargoed release. This was never our intention and he has subsequently been removed from our media lists both at his request and because we try to only send press releases to journalists.

“On hindsight the embargoed release only needed to go to a handful of selected daily print and broadcast media with online media receiving the release after the embargo had past. Obviously the use of embargoes does need to be reconsidered in this age of the internet and blogging and this incident has been a valuable lesson for me personally”.

Why did you decide to break the news embargo? Were you aware of the knock-on effect of taking advantage of knowledge before others?
A Photo Editor aka Rob Haggart: “I’m embarrassed it happened and it wasn’t intentional. I’ve pasted the top of the press release I received from the PR agency. (Press release: Embargo: 21.00 hrs, 22 October 2009). There’s no time zone on the embargo and I assumed that it had already occurred so I posted it. This is the first time anyone has ever sent me embargoed material and I told those idiots at the PR agency that they shouldn’t email blogs they have no relationship with. Spamming blogs with your press releases is horrible PR to begin with. Sending out the name of a contest winner before it’s been announced is stupid”.

Photo News – Busting news embargo about winner of the Prix Pictet Photography prize 2009

A quick post re: embargoes. I have been having some discussions with journalists about press embargoes in light of my recent post about the announcement of the Prix Pictet 2009 winner on A Photo Editor‘s blog which was published before the embargo. There are a few questions I wanted to raise about this topic so I will be sending the link to this post, as well as the questions by email, to both A Photo Editor and Jeanette Ward from Theresa Simon & Partners PR department who originally issued the press release:

To Jeanette Ward: Why was the news embargo in place? What was the purpose of the news embargo?

To A Photo Editor: Why did you decide to break the news embargo? Were you aware of the knock-on effect of taking advantage of knowledge before others?

The News Embargo entry on Wikipedia gives some more information on what embargoes are with some examples.

The status of press embargoes – a post by luvly also has something to say about press embargoes, though it is from 2002, however, some of the points made at the end of the post are interesting:
“So, in summary: it would seem that there is no special legal status granted to press embargoes. By releasing information under embargo, the PR is trusting in the journalist to stick to the unwritten rules of the embargo system. But any journalist caught breaking that system is unlikely to get any future assistance from that PR, should they ever require it.”

Barnett on PR (2007) asks: Are Press Embargoes Dead?
He says: “Today’s corporate and organizational media PR professional is no longer looking for ways to schedule the release of news, s/he is struggling to stay ahead of the tidal flow of unauthorized news leaks.”