Through embargoed press-releases, science journals, institutions and organizations give media professionals a few days of early access to soon-to-break science news stories.
Then, at the release date and hour, many all-too-similar articles and blogs about the most compelling of those topics suddenly appear (in all the usual places).
I have noticed this...and named it, in fun.
Embargo syndrome: Many articles and blogs about the same science news stories posting all at once. Yet, rarely are any of them as informative as the original press releases (as badly written or biased as those sometimes are).
Some websites republish the press releases verbatim or nearly so (because that is what they do, on purpose), wire services and news websites publish reworded and edited articles (not plagiarism, because the purpose of press-releases is to feed information to journalists) and science bloggers post their more individualistic takes (often the best reading, I find).
Bloggers may or may not be granted access to embargoed press releases and that is a separate issue. Today, I am not writing about who should or should not have access to embargoed science news or about whether (or not) embargoes are helpful.
However, it was one professional scientist-blogger's (denied, then granted) access to embargoed news and her thoughts about the embargo system and the accompanying comments that brought the "embargo syndrome" to my attention.
I realized I could catch that fever.
I could fall into the practice of culling most-likely-to-be-hot science topics from the embargoed list to report or blog a moment after their embargoes lift. But that is being done already, several times over, well enough.
Besides, with other freelance writing to do, I know I cannot cover enough of the leading science news to distinguish my science blog.
I need a niche. I want to report and blog science in a particular, signature way and add self-educational value.
Linking up a curated selection of related science news, blogs and background resources all on one page, with only a blurt or two of my own commentary is the new approach I am considering.
Image: Net, Chain and Shackles by JDPage, via Flickr.com