Is getting a law degree worthless? Maybe if you're trying to cover the Supreme Court.
This afternoon, SCOTUSblog, one of the leading news sources on the cases and goings on at the United States Supreme Court was again denied permission to report on their bread and butter. The Standing Committee of Correspondents of the Senate Press Gallery reaffirmed the rejection of the site's petition for a press credential.
The love for SCOTUSblog continued to run deep with the Washington Post hailing it as "the most important and valuable source of news and analysis about the Supreme Court."
So what gives? Well, the rationale was that the site's publisher, Tom Goldstein, is a lawyer who lobbies the government. He also occasionally writes for his site. SCOTUSblog reporters are not allowed to write about cases that his firm is involved in.
The committee finds that the Scotusblog editorial policy did not go far enough to achieve editorial independence from Mr Goldstein and his law firm."
The prevailing reaction has to been two-fold. First, this seems like an assault on new media.
Goldstein himself argued this, adding that this move actually excludes experts writing in any field.
Begin with the fact that the decision applies equally to publications in any field, whether health care, automobiles, technology, education, or anything else. It is not dependent on the fact that I work for a law firm that practices before the Supreme Court. The Committee deems it sufficient that the firm is not principally a news organization. So its reasoning extends equally to any publication that is produced by someone who plays dual roles, one of which isn’t a news organization.
As a result, the purpose and effect of the Standing Committee’s decision is to limit credentialing to traditional media in every field."
As Ryan Cooper points out, traditional media doesn't always know what it's talking about. When the Affordable Care Act judgment came down, CNN and Fox News quickly got it wrong and took several minutes to correct the story as it was unfolding. That's because they didn't know what they were talking. SCOTUSblog got it right — right away.