An interesting post over on Kotaku, in which their EIC talks about the conflict he felt when readers began sending in news tips about the poster leaks which, indeed, turned out to be about a game that was not meant to be known about for at least a week after it having been presented to media, and the situation that resulted, essentially bringing this upon themselves: http://hw1.pa-cdn.com/par/img/editorial/embargo1.jpg
But, it's their reaction that was most interesting. The story begins: "On Monday, I had talked to two of the game's creators, saw a presentation on the game and some video footage. As is common with seeing games early, I signed an embargo agreeing not to talk about what I'd seen and been told—in this case for a full week, up until noon Eastern on March 4."
On Tuesday, (the day after) Kotaku began receiving anonymous tips about a poster for AC4: Black Flag, that was likely intended for shop display, showing the game cover on the front and a map on the rear side.
Stephen Totilo explains the quandary that the site felt, to keep the terms of the NDA signed with Ubisoft, and not leave itself open to accusations that it had deliberately strung readers along, by not reporting on something that was practically in the public domain, by that stage.
"In the future, we can be more clear with those who show us games that we will run tips that are clearly sent to us independently and that, if and when we do, we will have to be able to more clearly acknowledge their veracity.
We will never leak information ourselves, but we can't sit around and fail to report when information starts leaking. If that spites us some access, so be it. I don't want Kotaku readers waking up on any future March 4ths feeling they were misled by our site. We worked hard to not seem like we were playing dumb in our AC IV posts this week..."
Penny Arcade Report's Ben Kuchera http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/assassins-creed-4-reveal-proved-embargo-failure-and-rigidity-of-publishers added his thoughts on the subject:
"These situations get stupid when information leaks, and writers have to pretend to not know if something is real...The best response from a publisher would be loosening restrictions once this sort of information is released, allowing the press to confirm its validity, inform readers of when the features will be going up, and the whole thing becomes a non-issue.
In the past I’ve had news given to me from a third-party source that I trusted completely, and I ran the information and broke the story. I felt pretty good about things, but to my surprise I was attacked by certain members of the press moreso than the publisher who lost the advantage of a big, unified reveal.
They had seen the game, signed the paper, and now their coverage was old news."
I am surprised to discover that that didn't happen. That Ubisoft didn't sensibly just admit the game was up, so to speak, and at least let enough out (there is more detail to see apparently, after the weekend on Monday, once the embargo officially elapses surrounding this debut of the game) that an outlet was free to respond factually to what it was being presented with, since it may well be that said information could already be considered "public knowledge"; and the confirmation of what was there, would not inherently affect the coverage that would follow the week after.
Of course, the quality of coverage would suffer if "I felt like I had to rush back to the hotel room after an event to vomit up words as quickly as possible to be competitive". PAR's Kuchera doesn't believe there to be a simple answer, without change. Fortunately for the rest of the reporting staff of Kotaku, Totilo had not let them become privy to the detail of what he had seen, so they were largely able to react to the developing story authentically.