WSJ Embargoes Embargoes



wsj-logo1It’s been eight months since TechCrunch announced that they would no longer honor embargoes, with several other sites jumping on that bandwagon in the interim. One of the issues here was undermining the credibility of the blogosphere at large. As Trisha Lyn Fawver put it,

A lot of the complaints that real journalists have about blogs is that they don’t adhere to the same ethics and standards as real journalistic endeavors do, or real reporters.

This is just another one of those things that proves them right :/ It makes bloggers in general look bad in my opinion.

No worries, folks! Now, the mainstream media is joining in—the Wall Street Journal has a new anti-embargo policy for its editorial staff. Rather, like TechCrunch, they’ll accept exclusives, and honor embargoes when the story is big enough.

I have to assume that means the WSJ will agree to embargoes only when they’re the only one getting the story or that the story is too good to pass up for some silly little policy. And even then, it almost sounds like they would prefer you to query with the story’s hook and the embargo terms for them to choose.

Unlike TechCrunch, the WSJ is NOT saying that they will agree to an embargo and go back on their word as a policy. Instead, paidContent reports, WSJ reporters are encouraged to . . . you know, do actual research. While expensive in an industry that’s struggling to adapt, in some respects, this could actually be good for the WSJ and MSM at large. PC explains:

In general, WSJ reporters will no longer be part of a herd of journalist briefings, which results in a spate of stories from various outlets all at the same time. If PR professionals approach them on a story, then they can refuse and go around and hunt down the story if they want to.

paidContent also looked at the policy in action: recently with the Yahoo homepage relaunch story, both Jessica Vascellaro and Kara Swisher went around the embargo by talking directly to sources—though, as PC points out, they did so with varying degrees of success/credibility/violating the embargo. As I said in December, “the practice of sending a full release with the headline ‘embargoed until such-and-such EST on such-and-such’ is taking your life in your hands.”

What do you think? Does talking to independent sources after learning about a story through an embargoed release and going live early violate an embargo? Will the WSJ’s new policy affect other MSM outlets? Is this the death of the embargo?