It has become Exhibit A in the digital-era battle over news-media credentialing.
On Monday, the gatekeepers of the gallery at the Supreme Court rejected SCOTUSblog’s second-try application to join the press corps at the table in the chamber where the action happens — the action that the SCOTUSblog team is the best in the world at reporting to the public. The gatekeeper Standing Committee at the Supreme Court are the same five journalists who oversee the Senate Gallery on Capitol Hill. They are Siobhan Hughes of the Wall Street Journal, Peter Urban of Stephens Washington News Bureau, Colby Itkowitz of the Allentown Morning Call, Kathleen Hunter of Bloomberg News, and Emily Ethridge of CQ Roll Call.
It’s no stretch or secret to say that none of the outlets these five people work at can hold a candle to SCOTUSblog when it comes to reporting and delivering fair and informative news and analysis in the moment on the work of the Supreme Court.
As SCOTUSblog publisher Tom Goldstein put it Monday afternoon: “This was a morning of ironies. At 9:30 a.m., six members of the blog staff were live-blogging the Supreme Court’s orders, followed by opinions at 10 a.m. There were 10,000 readers. The Standing Committee of Correspondents chose that time to release its ruling denying our appeal of its revocation of our press credential. We learned about it from Twitter.”
The Standing Committee rejected the appeal-application because, they said, SCOTUSblog is an insufficiently independent entity, mainly because Goldstein runs it out of his firm and Goldstein and his firm argue cases before the high court. In other words: Sorry, SCOTUSblog is run by an entity that is not principally a news organization.
As the Colorado Independent has told the Standing Committee of the Colorado Capitol Press Association for the last five years in the face of similarly argued rejections, good luck finding many of those “principally a news organization” organizations anymore, and please ask yourselves, too, given your dwindling ranks, how that criteria any longer principally serves the public.
Today, the nation’s Newspaper Guild, which was founded by journalists in 1933 and represents 25,000 media and other workers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, weighed in on the SCOtUSblog rejection.
“We are baffled as to how the Standing Committee at the Senate Gallery, comprising five journalists, came to the decision that SCOTUSblog didn’t meet the requirements for credentials, the Guild wrote in a release. “How is it that news agencies run by foreign governments can qualify for credentials, while an American website providing essential legal news can’t?
“Simply put, SCOTUSblog has the best and most complete coverage of the Supreme Court that can be found. It is relied on by other new organizations. Its coverage is balanced, non-partisan, non-advocacy and inherently fair.”
The legacy media’s credentialing war on the rest of us has raged long enough. It has become an absurd feature of the contemporary news-media landscape. It is long past time to rethink and rewrite credentialing criteria.