Thursday, October 21, 2010

EurekAlert! reporter-eligibility guidelines

We've noticed some online chat about EurekAlert!'s eligibility guidelines for reporters wanting to register for access to embargoed news. This single-serving blog is intended to clear up misinformation now making the rounds.

First, any science reporter who applies for access to EurekAlert! and is initially denied based on published policies should know that a speedy re-adjudication is always possible by contacting me at If I'm not available, please contact Barb Rice at I can't promise that the answer in a particular case will ultimately be "yes." But I can promise that we won't make the final decision in haste, or independently, and that we will seek input from multiple external reporter-advisors and others, as needed.

Second, here's a brief summary of our eligibility guidelines for reporter access: EurekAlert! criteria for reporter-level access are broad: We currently have 7,400 registered reporters working in at least 60 countries.

Access is granted to reporters working on-staff, or on a freelance basis, and including a large number of science bloggers. Eligible reporters should not have ineligible dual affiliations that might pose a conflict of interest or, yes, a potential violation of SEC guidelines. Ineligible categories include financial analysts, lobbyists, special interest or advocacy representatives, and advertising or marketing professionals. Potential conflicts of interest encompass scientists who may compete for funding with peers featured in embargoed news releases. Obviously, individual cases may present us with many shades of gray, and so we remain open to re-evaluating any registration request.

Fortunately, all content on EurekAlert! is freely accessible to the public immediately after embargoes lift, including a keyword-searchable database of hundreds of thousands of research news releases, science news specially written for K-12 students, the multimedia gallery, and much more.

The dedicated, intelligent, talented, extremely hard-working, basically amazing EurekAlert! staff at our nonprofit organization includes: Jennifer G., Jennifer H., Abby, Orien, Claire, Patrick, and Joe. It's an honor to work with all of them. Anyone with questions should please stop by for a chat on the EurekAlert! Facebook page. Or call me! Or stop by and see us. We'd like to hear from you.

Thanks to all who are communicating science broadly.

- Ginger,

Friday, March 5, 2010

Clearing up Misinformation

There has been some misinformation recently regarding newsroom credentialing policies for journalists covering the AAAS Annual Meeting.

For the record, bloggers who do original reporting and adhere to the standards of traditional science journalism are welcome at the AAAS Annual Meeting. AAAS respects and appreciates the role of bloggers in communicating science broadly.

AAAS traditionally has offered complimentary newsroom credentials to a broad group of career science communicators, including working reporters, producers, editors, and freelancers as well as public information officers for universities and research institutions, journalism professors and journalism students. All career science communicators who are members of the National Association of Science Writers are eligible to receive complimentary press badges at our meeting, one of the most generous standards among science organizations.

AAAS does not issue newsroom badges to representatives of lobbying, special interest or advocacy organizations. Similarly, scientists, scientific journal editors, advertising or marketing professionals and investment analysts must register as general attendees and pay the fee.

We have offered newsroom badges to bloggers and will continue to assess their credentials on a case-by-case basis.

Bloggers must meet the same criteria mentioned above: they should not have dual affiliations as marketing professionals, lobbyists, representatives of advocacy groups, or journal editors. The online world continues to evolve and our newsroom policies will evolve as well.

In the case of Bora Zivkovic, he had already received a meeting credential as a speaker affiliated with the journal PLoS. This did create some brief, initial confusion about his status when he arrived in the newsroom headquarters in San Diego. AAAS Senior Communications Officer Earl Lane has reported that he questioned whether Mr. Zivkovic was a journal editor. Mr. Zivkovic offered assurances that he was a member of the communications staff at PLoS. "We offered him a newsroom credential on that basis," Mr. Lane reported.

Mr. Zivkovic's blog post about his experience did not include reporting about the AAAS newsroom policies, which are online here, He also did not ask AAAS staff about the prohibitive cost for AAAS, a nonprofit science organization, to provide universal Wi-Fi access at the San Diego Convention Center.

AAAS was pleased to be able to pay for free Wi-Fi within the reporters' coffee lounge. A "AAAS Newsroom Update" flyer and a poster in the newsroom headquarters noted that registrants could get the access code from newsroom staff. AAAS also provided dozens of hard-wired Internet connections in the press technology work room. The free Wi-Fi seemed to become oversubscribed at a times; AAAS staff will be looking into this issue as they plan for the next year's Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

AAAS regrets if Mr. Zivkovic had an experience that was in any way uncomfortable for him; we look forward to his blogging about the 2011 AAAS Annual Meeting.

Ginger Pinholster, Director, AAAS Office of Public Programs
March 5, 2010