As we lead-paint watchers know, the state Supreme Courts seem to stand in the media shadow of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Today was no exception. The cover story of the influential THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE is, you got it, focused on how the nation's high court has shifted from an extreme liberal position to one that frequently sides with business. In the article by Jeffrey Rosen, a subheader blares, "Even liberal justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and David Souter, in opinions written last term, questioned the use of lawsuits to challenge corporate wrongdoing."
Yet, given what seems the increasing power of state Attorneys General, the rulings of state Supreme Courts have major implications - economic, political, social. That's why the muted media attention paid to trends in state Supreme Courts such as Ohio's has been, at least for me, the elephant in the room.
If anything is going to transform MidWest OH from a declining manufacturing area to a new-economy one, it's going to be the macro economic policies. Those have to come from the Governor, who has already gone out there as Economic Revival czar, the legislature which already gave us tort-reformer "117," and the state Supreme Court which decided in favor of "117," as well as other reforms of the personal-injury lawsuit system.
Likewise, those same big-picture drivers can arrest economic development, such as could happen in California. That's why there needs to be more ink, print and digital, devoted to explaining this direct correlation between the state Supreme Courts and economic health or plague.
There's a glimmer of hope. LEGAL NEWSLINE devotes part of its coverage to state Supreme Court issues. Also, a journalistic conga line seems to be forming to report on the seismic shift in OH Supreme Court rulings since about 2002. Last Saturday, Walter Olson was at the head of the line in his post on Pointoflaw.com about how legal experts confirm "Ohio's high court back on the right track." Given Olson's diverse communities of readers, the other media filings on this subject, such as David Owsiany's in an article for the BUCKEYE INSTITUTE, will now pull in more publicity.
How can tort-reformers help pitch this key shift to mainstream media, both liberal and conservative? Here are some suggestions from an old- and new-media pro:
- Piggyback on THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE cover story on U.S. Supremes. Media follow media.
- Highlight economic implications.
- Create a package of background information [presented in bullet points] and interview sources to provide media. Most media are understaffed and respond positively to your doing a lot of the preparatory work for them.
- Link past, present to the future such as the two seats on the OH Supremes up for re-election.
- Ask around your network for those with contacts with media.
- With a catchy headline and provocative point of view, post on your blog or as a guest on someone else's blog on this topic. Then copy, paste and email with a compelling header and what appears as a custom-made transmittal note to media. Do this right and you will get bites.
Want to know more about how to pitch effectively to media? Start blogging. You'll learn plenty.