First of all, from what I've seen and heard, rarely do sites break embargoes on purpose. Some of the time it's a mistake (wrong time communicated or accidental publish and immediate pull-down), but a lot of the time it's also the case that a company will give some site permission for an early jump on a story and just not let anyone else know. This happened to me over the summer, it's bullshit, but it happens.
Part of the problem is that there is often two companies involved -- the start-up/tech company and then the PR firm -- sometimes the main company will give a site permission to run something without letting the PR firm know. I haven't really seen too many people communicate this, but I know it happens all the time. As long as it keeps happening, there is really no point to embargoes.
I honestly don't mind if some company wants to give another site a scoop on something, we all get them from time to time, it's how the system works, but when a PR firm or company lies to me and tells me that everyone will be publishing under the embargo at the exact same time and then I see one go a few hours early (too early to be a mistake), I get really pissed off. It's just a waste of my time to agree to do something only to have the rug pulled out from under me.
I think subconsciously, that experience (which has happened more than just that one time) has led me to take less embargoed news to cover. In general, I don't really like the idea anyway. I like digging up my own, interesting stories. I like the thrill of the hunt. I don't really like stories being handed to me like a lion in a zoo.
But I understand that embargoed stories are an important part of the way news currently works. Jeremy Toeman has some good points about this in response to Arrington. But as Arrington alludes to, as more and more blogs get added to these embargo lists (sometimes I get pitched embargoed news for both VentureBeat AND this site), the problem will only continue to get worse.
Arrington is also right that the solution probably should be companies blacklisting those sites that break embargoes, but as I note above, a lot of times it doesn't seem that it's really sites going rogue and rather is a wink-wink nudge-nudge behind the scenes deal to publish early. Maybe that is also why Arrington is claiming that TechCrunch has never broken an embargo. If I'm to believe what PR firms tell me when I write them all pissed off, TechCrunch has broken embargoes numerous times -- so have many other sites -- the problem is that I don't really believe those PR firms, I think someone gave these sites permission to run early.
The system is broken and there's really no way to fix it without everything being completely transparent, and unfortunately that can't be the case with embargoed news or it would leak out early. So it will be very interesting to see if TechCrunch adheres to its new policy and how that effects the embargo landscape.
I'm fine with no embargoes at all. But it will probably lead to some pretty sketchy blog wars for the right to publish news.