Press&Policy

SCOTUSblog co-founder on C-SPAN “Q&A”

Posted in Journalism, New media by foiguy on May 27, 2013

Journalism and law nerds, take note: Sunday night’s “Q&A” on C-SPAN featured SCOTUSblog co-founder Tom Goldstein.

In a wide-ranging interview, Goldstein talked about how he became interested in the Supreme Court (an internship with Nina Totenberg), why he and his wife started SCOTUSblog (a failed marketing ploy) and his appearances before the court as a litigator (he’s argued 28 cases).

“We have objectively the biggest effort to cover the Supreme Court – ever.”

Tom Goldstein
SCOTUSblog co-founder

Before the site launched, in 2002, Goldstein said there was no online space devoted exclusively to covering the Supreme Court. SCOTUSblog, he said, was intended to fix that.

“The Supreme Court is a really important institution,” Goldstein told interviewer Brian Lamb. “Everybody’s got to agree with that. From Bush versus Gore to the health care decision to affirmative action to same-sex marriage. And yet with all of the coverage of Congress and the president, there was no place that was paying complete attention to what the justices were doing. It was just a gap. It was just an opportunity.”

A really interesting bit of the interview is when Goldstein talked about SCOTUSblog’s relationships with legacy media. Goldstein was responding to a prompt from Lamb comparing how news organizations reference the site.

“You say that cable television people don’t have any problem talking about what you do, but the print press won’t promote you,” Lamb said.

Goldstein responded: “Well, I think that the print press has a harder time knowing what to do with us as we get more prominent. There are some parts of the print press, say The New York Times, that’s incredibly confident in its own position, doesn’t mind citing us at all. And there are other places that I think are worried about, in citing us, are they actually promoting a competitor. You know, The Washington Post doesn’t go out of its way to say ‘Oh The New York Times says,’ and we’re not of the stature of The New York Times, but I think we’re a puzzle on a lot of different levels. On the other hand, we try very hard to promote all of the traditional press. We have a round-up of everything they’re doing. On Twitter, which we’re involved with, we try hard. So everybody’s feeling their way forward.”

The discussion turned to cameras in the court toward the end of the interview (around 40 minutes in). Goldstein offered some interesting insight: He supports televising oral arguments, but said he understands why justices do not.

Said Goldstein:

  • “I think people would understand and appreciate and admire the Supreme Court more. And even if they didn’t, it’s the country’s right. Those are public proceedings in my opinion. The American public deserves to get to see the institution in operation.”
  • “I think it’s just going to take another generation. And it will change, and they will eventually televise it. I think it’s regrettable that they haven’t done it yet.”
  • “It’s an irony that the court so treasures the media, and the press, and the First Amendment, but when it comes to what happens to them, they are more suspicious.”

Watch the full program here.

Update (6-2-13): The program is now on YouTube.

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