REPORT: News embargoes are outdated, yet dutifully observed

Journalists continue to respect their sources’ wishes regarding the time of publication, writes Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) fellow Sonja Gruber, of Austrian Press Agency. She conducted interviews with both potential sources and journalists to shed light on the contemporary state of the practice.

Little formal sanctions threaten journalists violating embargoes. Still they usually choose to observe a code of honor, even though the originally practical and mutually beneficial purpose of the embargo has been lost. The bottom line of Gruber’s study is that embargoes are likely to continue to be used by both government agencies and private enterprises just as they will be respected by journalists. The situations and topics in which embargoes are used, however, will continue to fragment and pressures to bury the practice increase.

Gruber’s study is published as an RISJ fellow paper. Summary of the study can be read and the full paper freely accessed here.

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