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News embargoes are observed in German speaking media

RISJ study press coverage

“Journalists love news embargoes,” headlines German daily “taz. die tageszeitung”, quoting Sonja Gruber, journalist fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) and author of a study on news embargoes. Sonja concluded that the digitalisation and acceleration of news cycles put embargoes under pressure but journalists still defend this ancient press tool tooth and claw. “Embargoes give us time to engage in the material”, Froben Homburger, head of news with the German press agency dpa told the “taz”. However, the article broaches the area of conflict which emerges when newspapers break embargoes on their digital evening editions. This recently occured in the case of Chancellor Angele Merkel’s New Year’s speech broadcast later on TV. Until now such breaks are more or less ignored by rivals — “no complaint, no redress”, says Sonja.

Link to “taz” story: http://www.taz.de/Sperrfristen-im-Journalismus/!153096/

In Sonja’s home country Austria, news embargoes are also a subject of discussion. The Austrian media magazine “Horizont” published an article covering Sonja’s RISJ study, it stated that according to her, embargoes are an “ethical honor” in the media industry and breaks are mostly due to human error. But since media consumption patterns are becoming more complex, PR increasingly faces difficulties to enforce embargoes, at least when it’s about soft topics, Sonja told “Horizont”. At the same time there is a countermovement: Institutions that release market-sensitive data by trend tighten their security measures, especially in the US, where governmental institutions literally lock journalists in a room. In these “lockups” reporters are provided with press material that must not be published until a certain time. It gives them time to browse the often complex press material and prepare their stories. “Horizont” furthermore points out that news embargoes haven’t been investigated in academia so far.

Link to “Horizont”: http://www.horizont.at/home/horizont-news/detail/es-ist-ein-ehrenkodex-der-branche.html

Photo credit: Tony Cyphert, Flickr