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Some idiot from Huffington Post* was on CNN's Reliable Sources today attacking the NYT for "breaking the embargo" on the Harry Potter book, running a review two days before they were supposed to.

For those who don't know the PR business, an embargo is a scheduled time a PR firm will give to the news media, before which the information in question should not be published. Often, the media will agree to it, in order to get access to information, and they can have the story all ready to go when the news "breaks." I've done it on various occasions, usually in regards to a scheduled product announcement: I interview the people involved, maybe try out the software, and write the story in advance.

And in such cases, I usually will agree to the embargo, and breaking it will mean breaking my word, so I don't do break the embargo.

In this case, the publisher of the book did set an embargo, but it was not a precondition for the NYT to get access to any information. The NYT got the book independently. So there is absolutely no reason whatsoever why the NYT should not publish their review any time they wish to. Period. An embargo not agreed to is no embargo at all. There's no reason in law, ethics, morality, or logic why they shouldn't publish their review "early."

There's only ONE reason to not publish early: relationships. The publisher might get angry at you and not give you information in the future. But what does the NYT care about that? Every publisher lives to get their books on the NYT bestseller list, so the NYT is far more powerful than any book publisher. And besides, again, the NYT did not violate their word, so any anger expressed by the publisher is nonsensical on its face. "New York Times: how dare you do your job to inform your readers as you see fit instead of allowing us to dictate it to you?"

The other dude on Reliable Sources actually called the NYT's actions grossly "unethical." He writes some column about ethics. And he doesn't know what ethics are, apparently, because this was not in the least bit unethical. He went off about "think of the children" because someone might find out too much about the book from an early review; well, they don't have to actually read the review. If I cared one whit about Harry Potter, I would simply avoid reviews about it. As long as they don't print any spoilers, or warn readers early in the review before getting to any spoilers later, there's no issue. slashdot.org

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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