There is a quaint practice in journalism known as the embargo. It works this way: An organization wishes to release news to all media outlets at once, but wants reporters to have some advance word for planning purposes. Organization releases info with a specific release time and/or date. In theory, the news is embargoed until then; early release is "busting the embargo" and is considered bad form.
At 2 p.m. on Wednesday, the Community Foundation released its Community Focus report. But that was old news to readers of the Springfield News-Leader; the paper had a front-page package on Wednesday morning, and its website included a .pdf copy of the complete report.
Gary Funk, president of the Community Foundation, was quite angry with the newspaper's decision to bust the embargo, sources tell CHATTER. Funk was especially peeved because the Community Foundation had worked with the paper, prior to publication, on the best way to present the report to the public.
News-Leader Editor Don Wyatt tried to downplay the incident as a "miscommunication" between the paper and Funk. "I don't know that we agree on it," Wyatt told CHATTER late Wednesday. But, he added, "no promises were made" to honor the 2 p.m. embargo.
Wyatt also said the paper wasn't the first media outlet to break the news early. "KY-3 had something on the 10 p.m. news (Tuesday) night," Wyatt said. Generally speaking, once an embargo is busted, it's fair game to publish. That said, no one should believe the newspaper decided to run its story only after KYTV ran its report; the paper's front page is almost always locked down by 10 p.m., and the Community Focus centerpiece was too elaborate to be a last-minute placement.
However it happened, the Community Foundation's embargo was broken. Wyatt said there are no repercussions: "I think (Funk's) very satisfied with the outcome, and we're very satisfied with the outcome."
Wyatt may be satisfied, but we hear Funk is far from pleased. Our sources say Funk believed Wyatt had agreed to the embargo, and that Funk felt misled by the News-Leader. Will it mean strained relations between the city's biggest philanthropic organization and the city's biggest media outlet? We've got a call in to Funk for comment. Stay close.