Many newspaper reporters prepare their stories well in advance of their deadlines. This applies especially to science stories, which often take considerable time to write. This lead time is the primary reason advance texts are so important.
For example, if morning newspaper reporters must wait until a speaker presents a paper at 4 p.m. before starting to write their stories, they may miss their early edition deadline. The unavailability of advance texts of papers to be presented in the morning imposes extreme difficulty on reporters of out-of-town evening newspapers, who usually file for the next day's editions. Obviously, morning news conferences present the same difficulty to the out-of-town evening papers.
Wire-service reporters often must write and transmit stories several hours ahead to reach morning and afternoon newspapers published in different time zones.
When copies of papers, reports, or speeches are made available in advance of delivery, it is only fair, to speakers and reporters alike, for the society and PIO to indicate the time and date of release.
Many scientific and medical societies stamp each report with the time of delivery (e.g., FOR USE AT 11:00 AM, EST, JANUARY 1, 1998).
Others feel that trying to observe specific hours or quarter hours is cumbersome. They therefore post ground rules such as:
The 1 p.m. cutoff division between afternoon and morning newspaper use is only an example. Other organizations use other times as the cutoff hour. And, of course, electronic media may use material as soon as the embargo time has passed.
In general, do not embargo news so long after a news conference that you have skipped a publication cycle — for example, days later — or newspaper editors may see your news as old and not publish it.
It is not the business of the NASW to tell a professional society what release practices it should follow. The ground rules in every case should be stated explicitly by the PIO in advance notice to media and in written form in the newsroom, both by notice handed to each newsroom registrant and by prominent bulletin-board display.
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