NYT tweeted Hobby Lobby ruling 41 minutes after SCOTUSblog

In a remarkable display of caution lasting eons in Twitter time, The New York Times waited about 40 minutes after the news broke to post the Supreme Court's ruling [PDF] on whether some companies can be required to pay for contraception.

SCOTUSblog, which doesn't have a press credential despite attracting 50,000 viewers to its live blog today, tweeted the ruling at 10:16 a.m.

Within five minutes, the Associated Press and Wall Street Journal had also tweeted the news, but the Times would say only that the court had ruled on the case without going into specifics:

https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/483616063129931776

That bit of non-news included a disclaimer explaining why the Times wasn't yet telling readers what everyone else was telling them:

nythobbylobby

Earlier, the Times told readers of The Caucus blog to expect delays as reporters and editors ensure they fully understand the decision. The explanation alluded to the embarrassment some news organizations felt two years ago when they jumped the gun and misinterpreted the Supreme Court's ruling on the health care law (the Times got it right in 2012, tweeting the news 10 minutes after SCOTUSblog did):

We realize that people will be eager to know what the ruling means as soon as it is released (and you can read the decision yourself when it is posted on the court’s website). But we also want to point out that the immediate descriptions of any ruling may not be very meaningful, because the ruling could be complicated, as it was with last year’s ruling on same-sex marriage, and on health care the year before, and not amenable to instant summarizing.

The moment that we feel comfortable reporting a ruling’s basic meaning, which could be almost immediately, we plan to explain the decision.

Apparently that moment came about 40 minutes after SCOTUSblog was comfortable posting the news — and more than 35 minutes after AP and The Wall Street Journal were.

https://twitter.com/SCOTUSblog/status/483615112905777153

https://twitter.com/AP/status/483615488149573633

https://twitter.com/WSJ/status/483616221473300480

https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/483625424942276608

The only potential inaccuracy in the Times's tweet, as far as I can see: the claim that the news was truly "breaking" anymore.

  • Sam Kirkland

    Sam Kirkland is Poynter's digital media fellow, focusing on mobile and social media trends. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as a digital editor, where he helped launch digital magazines and ebooks in addition to other web duties.

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