In the past two week, SCOTUSBlog has seemingly changed its policy towards assembling stories for its daily roundup of news stories.
On 4/19, the roundup noted, for what I think is the first time, that they are switching to a new system and would accept links to stories for the morning roundup:
We are switching to a new system of collecting links for the round-up. If you have a story or post related to the Supreme Court that you would like us to include in the round-up, please send a link to [email protected] so that we can consider it.
On 4/23, the roundup noted:
We are switching to a new system of collecting links for the round-up. If you have a story or post that you would like to have included in the round-up, please send a link toroundup [at] scotusblog.com, and we will consider it.
They added the same message to the roundups on 4/24, and on 4/29 wrote:
If you have a story or post that you think should be included in the round-up, please send a link to roundup [at] scotusblog.com so that we can consider it.
On 4/30, there was another change. Now SCOTUSBlog will *only* accept articles submitted.
We have changed our round-up format! In an effort to simplify the process for our round-up team, going forward we will only include in the round-up news articles and posts that are submitted to us. If you have (or know of) an article or post that you would like to have included in the round-up, please send a link to roundup [at] scotusblog.com so that we can consider it.
This change is all the more interesting in light of recent comments Tom Goldstein made to New York Magazine about the “court press wars.”
What’s your relationship like with the Supreme Court press corps?
That has changed dramatically over the past twelve months. From Obamacare on—when we had 1 million people on the blog simultaneously on decision day—there has been a radical shift, to the point where the mainstream press regards us as an extreme threat. Our external press citations are down. You can see it on Twitter as well. While we’ll regularly retweet pieces by other people, and we have the roundup every day of the rest of the press corps, the reverse isn’t true at all.
And we can track the IP use. Anyone in the press corps will tell you that the Supreme Court press room is now, except on decision day, completely empty, because everybody works from their bureaus just using our blog. So it’s a very odd situation in which they make unbelievable use of the blog but really don’t want to do anything that promotes it. That’s not true for cable television. Cable TV doesn’t give a shit. But the newspapers and the wires treat us as competitors.
Did you see that change coming?
It’s weird, because I know these people. I kind of grew up with them. The Supreme Court press corps on some level made me as a Supreme Court advocate. I didn’t go to Harvard or Yale, I didn’t clerk in the Supreme Court, I didn’t work in the solicitor general’s office. My path to developing a personal profile that let me develop a Supreme Court practice initially—I really owe it to them.
I spoke with one member of the Supreme Court Press Corps, who told me these comments were off base, and the press routinely cites SCOTUSBlog. Out of curiosity, I did a search for “SCOTUSBlog” in the Westlaw Newspapers Database (there are probably other searches for “SCOTUS Blog” as two words, but I kept it consistent). There were a more than 360 hits total. Over 100 of them *since* June 28, 2012 (the day NFIB was decided). Roughly a quarter of the references to SCOTUSBlog have been in the last 8 months or so. Between 2004 and the beginning of the October 2008 term, there were 50 references. In OT 2008, there were 46 references. In OT 2009, there were 46 references. In OT 2010 there were 30 references (a snoozer of a term). In OT 2011 there were 80 references. Since, June 28, 2012, the day NFIB was decided there have been over *100* references. In the past few months, SCOTUSBlog has quadrupled their references in newspapers.
Why the change, in the span of week, from requesting stories for the roundup, to only publishing stories submitted? Perhaps it may have something to do with SCOTUSBlog’s efforts to be seen as a journalistic entity. Opening up the way it offers news coverage can only improve its reputation. This will also help to quell rumors (some of which I have confirmed) that certain sources have been “blacklisted,” for various reasons, from SCOTUSBlog’s roundup. Or, as I’ve heard, that reporters at Reuters are frustrated about not getting links from SCOTUSBlog. [Update: I’ve since learned that this rumor about Reuters is not accurate, so I withdraw this comment.] I welcome these improvements.
As Tom noted, the Senate Press Gallery recently gave Lyle credentials. This change, and others, could help pave the way to the Supreme Court offering credentials. I wish them the best of luck with that endeavor.
Update: And two weeks later, it looks like SCOTUSBlog has again modified its policies:
If you have (or know of) a recent article or post that you would like to have included in the round-up, please send a link to roundup [at] scotusblog.com so that we can consider it.
They have abandoned their policy of *only* publish articles submitting and now will *consider* articles submitted. I’ve noticed that the size of the roundup has dwindled in the past few weeks–much fewer links. I doubt enough people bothered to send it articles. Now, back to normal operations, but at least open up to allowing people to submit.