No doubt by the time the U.S. wakes up on Wednesday morning the Twitterati will be out in force reacting to PaidContent’s story that the Wall Street Journal is giving up embargoes (apparently the new year’s diets went out the window in February).
In short, the Journal won’t accept embargoes for stories, but will take exclusives if handed to them.
According to Rafat Ali at PaidContent the policy change ties to Robert Thomson’s memo back in March when the judgment came down:
“…henceforth all Journal reporters will be judged, in significant part, by whether they break news for the Newswires.”
But what’s really changed?
The big-brand companies still have the heft to bully publications ranging from the Journal to TechCrunch (which repented on embargoes last year) to accept embargoes. And the media properties with juice can still force the lesser names to accept their terms.
Or a given publication works with a company under embargo when it believes exploring the announcement and the associated context without the pressure of an immediate deadline will benefit the story.
That’s how the game has always been played.
I take issue with Ali’s assertion that “WSJ reporters will no longer be part of a herd of journalist briefings…”
While there are abuses from both sides of the fence on this one, the fact remains that an embargo enables a reporter to write a more thoughtful piece.
If anything, the embargo actually results in greater diversity in how an announcement plays out in various outlets. If you don’t believe this, compare the content of different wire stories from a single announcement.
I’m not criticizing the wires. With the pressures to be first (back to our friend Mr. Thomson) it’s virtually impossible to bang out an original story right after an announcement has officially gone live … which is why the only glory comes from being first.
But if you’re not going to be first, the benefit of time offers the opportunity for story telling.