It's said that the news never stops. But often, its timing is stage-managed.

Much of the news, particularly in Washington, is produced under an important, if obscure, agreement known as an embargo. This arrangement between newsmakers and news reporters is meant to be mutually beneficial. A source — whether in government, book publishing or the entertainment business — releases to the press a piece of information or provides access to a highly anticipated book or movie, but only under the condition that the recipients hold off on publishing anything about it until a specified hour.

Journalists who agree to the embargo learn about important news on equal terms with their competitors and get a head start on researching, writing or recording their stories. Sources, meanwhile, maximize the impact of their news by having it blasted by the media en masse.