It wasn’t exactly “Dewey Defeats Truman.” But it was big. Right after the Supreme Court revealed its ruling on the controversial Affordable Care Act and its mandate that every American buy health insurance, CNN and Fox News were broadcasting that law had been overturned.
But it hadn’t. Here’s a great video compilation of how bad their reports got. They even fooled the president.
CNN and others were doing what every reporter at the Supreme Court does when a big ruling comes: Furiously read and understand its implications so you can report it.
But one source in particular got the ruling correct soon after then offered ceaseless and contextual analysis of it all day: SCOTUSblog.
To me, it was a symbolic moment. CNN — “the most trusted name in news” — was embarrassed. SCOTUSblog was essential. They’re very different entities. The behemoth, CNN, continues to try to do something about everything — every topic under the sun. The blog, which is sponsored by Bloomberg Law and written by lawyers, has decided to do everything about something: the Supreme Court and only the Supreme Court.
Yes, CNN and Fox News reach far more people than SCOTUSblog. But in just the last couple years it’s gotten far easier to integrate sources like SCOTUSblog into your stream of information. They’re just a tweet or Facebook post or email away.
When your TV seamlessly integrates with your internet connection, well, they might even be just a click away on your couch in some form.
Far too many publishers and broadcasters still want to be a complete source of your information — collecting and covering as many different things as possible so that you won’t have to look anywhere else.
Then there are places like SCOTUSblog, which is just trying to just give you the best information about the things they’re best at covering.
They, like we, know you are smart enough to assemble your perfect stream of information. Include them as a potential source of information about the Supreme Court. Put in ESPN as your source for sports. You see what I mean. As that gets easier to do, we all will have to earn our place in your stream.
It’s no longer about being first with information; it will be about being the best.
A few years ago, we got the idea to sell our stories to other local publishers and news agencies. It was one of the many insights that editor Andrew Donohue and I hashed out while throwing the football back and forth.
The idea was simple but jarring too. We would be admitting that our portal — our website — wasn’t going to compete with other publications but actually help them. It made sense, after all, we’re a nonprofit pursuing a mission. Mission doesn’t say anything about only publishing stories on our website.
If we wrote a story that was good, why not see how far it could go, beyond the reach of the site?
The innovation produced results but not what we were expecting. We developed new, exciting partnerships with other media in town. We sold some stories, and more photographs.
But then we noticed that our counterparts around the country were experimenting with a different approach. In Austin, the Texas Tribune, which started years after us but with the benefit of our lessons and more money, was giving its stories away, for free, to newspapers across the state. ProPublica did the same.
We were squeezing publishers who wanted to reprint our stories for pennies. We were scolding those who didn’t ask permission. It was a hassle and it wasn’t paying off.
So a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that we should stop policing our copyright on the internet and give a free pass (with conditions) to newspapers and stations in the region to republish our work. If we can get our stories out further, to more people, it means your dollar of support goes further.
With the announcement that the U-T was cutting off access to its free content, we pushed the decision forward and Monday seized on the chance to illustrate that we’re trying to make our information easier to get.
It’s always fun to make a decision like that and then wait to see what unexpected consequence results.
Thanks to the more than 130 people who came to the launch of our “One Voice at a Time” series. It’s a one-on-one conversation with a local newsmaker. Donna Frye was the first perfect guest. Now I have to follow her up with someone.
Mayor Jerry Sanders politely declined. He probably didn’t think he could match Frye’s art, which delivered both in fun and funds.
Actually, I’m not sure anyone can match that. Oh man, has her art cursed the whole series?
Ah, I don’t believe in curses. See you at the next one.
I’m Scott Lewis, the CEO at Voice of San Diego. You can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!): twitter.com/vosdscott.