The news that Mike Sacks has been tapped to become the Huffington Post’s first Supreme Court reporter is notable for two reasons. The first is that Mike did great work at F1@1F and Supreme Court fans should look forward to seeing what he can do as a full-time reporter with resources behind him.
The second, and perhaps more notable reason, is that the Huffington Post now joins a select group of news organizations with a Supreme Court beat reporter. The decision to put resources into Supreme Court reporting (and legal reporting as a whole), is a tacit acknowledgement of the generally poor quality of work that currently exists, and the demand for better and more plentiful reporting. Of course, there are an abundance of exceptions – SCOTUSblog, the New York Times, and the National Law Journal come to mind – and hopefully this move will increase the level of discourse about the Supreme Court. The Huffington Post is an influential source of news, and the Supreme Court remains a largely under appreciated and misunderstood institution. As the Huffington Post slowly devotes more column inches to the Supreme Court, hopefully we will see a subtle increase in the quality of legal discussion around the internet and in the mainstream media.
That said, this may all simply be a shrewd business decision from the Huffington Post. The Supreme Court is heading into a truly blockbuster year and the HuffPost could attract more than their fair share of pageviews by providing high-quality coverage.
Hard to say what the motivation was to hire Sacks, but Supreme Court watchers are the clear winners.