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TechCrunch no longer honoring news embargoes

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TechCrunch blogger Michael Arrington is sick of waiting to blog. He issued a statement today saying he and his writers would no longer honor most news embargoes.

Companies regularly approach reporters with news under the condition that they not publish  information until a certain time. News embargoes have existed for decades among newspapers and are now common practice.

Embargoes have traditionally proved practical in circumstances when an organization plans to release complex data, which require significant analysis in order to sufficiently report about. Now, embargoes are employed for everything, including new Web start-ups and product launches, in the hopes that every blog and website pushes the button at the same time -- optimal promotion.

Arrington is fed up with playing by the rules, especially since many of his competitors don't, he writes on TechCrunch. "A year ago embargo breaks were rare, once-a-month things," he writes. "Today, nearly every embargo is broken, sometimes by a few minutes, sometimes by half a day or more."

As you might guess, whoever breaks the news first gets a huge boost, and public relations firms generally dish out ...

... minimal punishment to offenders, Arrington writes. (Except in the cases of Microsoft and Google, Arrington acknowledges. They take embargoes very seriously by issuing, in some cases, yearlong bans on news organizations.)

TechCrunch will make exceptions, though. "We will honor embargoes from trusted companies and PR firms who give us the news exclusively," Arrington writes on the blog.

That caveat is worrying some tech bloggers. "Seriously I don’t think asking PR firms and start-ups to give you exclusives is the way to go," Richard MacManus, blogger for ReadWriteWeb, writes in the comments on Arrington's post. "That's asking them to choose which blog they want to get on, and of course they will opt for the biggest one."

One self-described "curious PR person" asked Arrington in the comments how one might go about building relationships with TechCrunch bloggers if they won't talk to them. In prickly Arrington fashion, he replied, "Go away."

Will the new TechCrunch policy change the way embargoes are used among tech reporters? How long will TechCrunch's embargo-busting last once PR firms find out they can't trust it with time-sensitive information? Vote in our poll, and let us know what you think in the comments.

-- Mark Milian

Photo of Michael Arrington by Joi via Flickr

 
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