I feel a bit like long-time radio commentator Paul Harvey with this post. On Friday, I reported here that SCOTUSblog would unveil a new look and new features on Monday. Well, now we get the rest of the story. Along with the new look comes a new direction for the blog.
Bloomberg Law will support SCOTUSblog’s mission to provide independent, complimentary and high-quality coverage of issues pertaining to the Court and allow the site to expand the wideranging, unbiased content created by its respected staff and contributors.
Meanwhile, SCOTUSblog founder Tom Goldstein says this about the sponsorship:
The sponsorship represents a tremendous public service by Bloomberg Law. It allows us to improve and expand the information we distribute about the Court. We now have four full-time staff. Along with our reporter Lyle Denniston, Amy [Howe, Goldtein’s wife and law partner] will devote almost all her time to editing and directing the blog; Kali [Borkoski] and Kiera [Flynn] have converted to full-time blog employees.
We also of course have many part-time contributors. One very significant new addition is former Wall Street Journal Supreme Court reporter Steve Wermiel, whose first bi-monthly column on the Court for law students appears today.
Goldstein also provides more details on the new “community” feature that I mentioned in my Friday post:
Here is how the “community” will work. Rather than the traditional approach of opening up individual blog posts to comments, we will be presenting specific topics for discussion and debate. Every business day, we will introduce a new Supreme Court-related topic – such as a major decision by the Court – for discussion. Each topic will generally remain active for one week. We will be soliciting experts to participate in the community discussion with our readers. The best comments will be featured in a daily blog post.
Goldstein says that readers will need to register in order to comment and that the community will be heavily moderated “for civility and substance (in the sense that the comment has to be substantive, not that we have to agree with it).”
I believe that Bloomberg’s sponsorship will prove to be a benefit to readers of SCOTUSblog. For several years now, this blog has moved closer and closer to becoming a serious — dare I say “mainstream” — news site, particularly since bringing aboard Lyle Denniston. Now it will be able to devote more staff and resources to that task, which can only make it all that much better.
And before anyone bemoans the blog for “selling out,” keep in mind that this new sponsor is, itself, a professional, global news organization, one that already has a strong legal news component. As a matter of fact, I would say that this sponsorship will be better for the blog’s readers than was the blog’s longtime affiliation with a major law firm, Akin Gump.
Of course, this is a smart move for Bloomberg Law. which I most recently wrote about in July, when it released the latest iteration of its legal research platform. Not only will it enhance Bloomberg Law’s visibility and authenticity as a legal research provider, but it could also help it gain access to authors and content it needs to help fill out its libraries of secondary materials. Those secondary libraries — treatises, practice guides, articles — are where Bloomberg still falls short of West and Lexis. It has been working furiously to remedy that, hiring armies of lawyers and creating original content.