This is old news by now, but having just visited the Christian Science Monitor's rather sparse online site, I thought I would browse their science section, which is even sparser; and came across this story from 2016 about the time that EurekAlert! was hacked. The interesting point to the story is the claim by some (not many, it doesn't seem) that although a centralized clearinghouse for press releases & studies is incredibly handy for reporters, the accompanying feature of requiring these journalists to agree to an embargo on new information until the agreed-upon release date may have an odd effect: encouraging pack journalism in science reporting. As I will relate further on, pack journalism is usually a Bad Thing thing in topics other than science, e.g. politics; so I'm curious as to whether it matters or not in science reporting. Here's the 2016 Monitor article – Why science reporters were thrown for a loop this week - and here's a relevant passage about the 'pack journalism' issue (note they don't use that term as such). I'm going to indent the passage rather than quote it, for better legibility: . . . Embargoes allow writers to spend more time reading the research papers and understanding the underlying science. The idea is that giving journalists a few days to work on the story reduces the chances of getting it wrong. But, as Undark.org media critic Paul Raeburn told Wired in May, "Embargoes are hard to resist." And this may mean that reporters feel like they have to report on something just because it is highlighted by EurekAlert!, for fear of missing something their competitors cover. So EurekAlert! is likely shaping the science news that ends up in your Google News feed, on the front page of the newspaper, or in your Facebook feed. "Embargoes may seem like a dry and arcane topic, but when it comes to science, they play a central role in what the public finds out about, and when they find out about it," Ivan Oransky, medical journalist, professor, physician, and creator of the blog EmbargoWatch told Vocativ. "In exchange for time and access, journalists agree to wait to report on studies until journals say they can. What emerges is a very warped sense of how science works." Also here is the 2016 Wired story that was referenced by Reaburn in the above passage; note the story's title directly alludes to the issue: Inside EurekAlert, the New Hub That Shapes the Science You Read. Here are some excerpts: Science news gets around. But a lot of it—you probably didn’t know this—comes from the same place. A website called EurekAlert gives journalists access to the latest studies before publication, before those studies are revealed to the general public. Launched 20 years ago this week, EurekAlert has tracked, and in some ways shaped, the way places like WIRED cover science in the digital era. That centralization, coupled with the embargo system (which has existed way before EurekAlert), has contributed to a longstanding tension within science journalism about what gets covered—and what does not. Embargoes prohibit scientists and journalists from publicizing any new research until a given date has passed, specified by whatever journal is publishing the work. Embargoes serve several purposes. First, they ensure that any new research has been properly peer reviewed before being presented to the public. Second, embargoes give reporters enough time to report the science accurately, without worrying about beating their competition to press. Inevitably, the system also creates PR for the research itself. Ever wonder why some days, in the middle of the morning, eleventy-one different news organizations will suddenly spam Google News, Facebook, and Twitter with the same groundbreaking discovery? An embargo has lifted, unleashing a flood of coverage. The Wired story concludes with what I'll guess is what most of us would believe: that overall, the advantages of a central clearing house for science reporters, operated as it is by a responsible nonprofit organization, the AAAS, does far more good than bad. However, it is cautionary to note that just how bad pack journalism is in all other fields of coverage; this especially includes politics, but also includes crime reporting and pretty much the reporting of any breaking sensationalistic news story. I will add that as a news reporter myself, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I experienced the pressure of pack journalism personally and found it destructive to my own efforts to concentrate on good journalism rather than bad. A few links to the general phenomenon: via Wikipedia, an overview: Pack journalism an interview with a researcher who believes the problem is increasing in the digital communications age: “The news we get is McDonald’s”: Communications scholar Pablo Boczkowski on imitation in the news a CJR story from 2012 about the effect in election coverage, and what might happen if things were done differently: Breaking the pack journalism paradigm: What would happen if reporters covered debates without access to the spin? But none of this necessarily shows that pack journalism in popular science reporting is a problem. Regarding EurekAlert, I'd still have to go along with the idea that by itself, responsible centralization of studies & press releases does more good than harm; and one might even argue that having multiple outlets cover the same story at the same time is a good thing. Even so I'd be interested in thoughts from those here who regularly monitor science news in particular fields. Is it possible EurekAlert inadvertently causes pack journalism of the unwelcome sort, with regard to breaking science stories? If so can you recall specific instances? And more generally, is pack journalism as much a problem in popular science reporting as it is in other topics, e.g. politics; and again, any specific instances? P.S. It looks like the blog mentioned in the Monitor article, EmbargoWatch, would be an interesting place to visit; the blog's sub-title is "Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage." I'm going to check it out. The blogger, medical journalist Ivan Oransky, mentions that he published an opinion piece in late 2016 in Vox about why he thinks embargoes are bad; and it's nice to see that on his blog he printed a counter-argument from a PR person.