Of butterflies and embargo breaks, Nature and Le Monde

While reading Ivan Oransky’s very interesting and useful Embargo Watch blog, I stumbled upon a post from a couple of weeks ago about an embargo lift by Nature caused by the break attributed to Le Monde. Ivan looked invain for the article in Le Monde, and asked for help .

I was curious to know more, so I started searching the web: the story involved French researchers so I was wondering whether Le Monde had gotten the news directly from them and didn’t cite the Nature article, or what else.

I searched the web edition of Le Monde, like Ivan had done, and found nothing more than he had found: nothing at all…
Instead among the first results I got a take by the Agence France Presse that was published by several outlets on Aug 12 (supposedly made public right after the embargo lift by Nature).

Then I found something quite funny: apparently the press officers of the Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique CNRS didn’t notice that the news had been already published all over the world (including Canada) on Aug 12, and they put out their own press release on Aug 14.

Finally I found on Scribd the printed edition of Le Monde, dated August 13th (of course we all know that Le Monde appears in newsstands in the afternoon with the date of the following day) and looked for the article responsible of the “chauvinistic” embargo break…

And I was rather disappointed.

A few lines, with a small picture, on page 14. Nothing to justify an embargo break.

But one note to understand: the citation read: «Joronet al. in «Nature» du 11 août»).

So it was just a mistake: they mixed up embargo dates, since Nature had published a different embargoed press release expiring on August 11.

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