David Savage, the Los Angeles Times' long-time Supreme Court expert in Washington, gets a nice pat on the back for his coverage of the health care ruling in this note to the newsroom from Deputy Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin. Interestingly, we learn in the email that the Times website had six alerts of various flavors pre-written to be sent once the news broke.
To the staff:
For the second time in a week, The Times was called on to cover a history-making Supreme Court ruling with speed, depth and sweep. And for the second time, journalists in the Washington bureau and across the paper rose to the occasion, and then some.
At the heart of it all was SCOTUS beat reporter David Savage, who showed once again why he is considered among the very best of court-watchers.
A breaking news alert went up on latimes.com the instant it was clear the court had upheld the heart of the health care law. (David had written six alerts in advance, covering various scenarios.) David was up soon after with a two-paragraph bulletin for mobile users, and then with a complete story on the home page.
David wrote fast but not in haste. Crucially, he got it right - and as we know, not everyone did. He also made the intricate, 5-4 decision understandable.
A story this big requires a strong supporting cast, and David had the cavalry behind him.
Chad Terhune weighed in with a crisp take on the ruling's impact on California. Christi Parsons and Kathleen Hennessey described President Obama's initial despair (at the erroneous TV reports) and subsequent elation. Tiffany Hsu, Ricardo Lopez and Will D'Urso quickly collected comments from the business community. As many as 15 SCOTUS-related stories were up on the website at any given moment.
David Lauter, Tim Phelps, Joe Bel Bruno, Michael Hiltzik and Mike Memoli explained the ruling and its repercussions in a series of live discussions with readers.
The home page streamed live video of the crowd scene outside the court and of Obama's remarks from the White House. A "quote rotator" showcased excerpts of the ruling and reaction from across the political spectrum.
What a performance.
Then, barely pausing for breath, we put out a print edition that was every bit as good.
Savage's main story was smartly complemented by Noam Levey's analysis of the national impact, Paul West's deft sussing of the political implications, Jim Rainey's witty, warts-and-all review of the media coverage, Kim Geiger's survey of the stakeholders, Chad Terhune's expanded look at the California angle, and Walter Hamilton's and Andrew Tangel's report on the stock market impact. Rounding out the package, Tony Perry reported on a ruling almost overlooked in the hubbub, the one striking down the Stolen Valor Act.
A final word about David Savage: Not only did he keep his head yesterday when others were losing theirs, he anticipated, with eerie accuracy, just how the court would decide the case. In an excellent set-up story Monday, he wrote, "In the end, the justices could agree the law's required tax payments are constitutional." Spot on.
It's exhilarating to see The Times deliver such exceptional coverage of a huge and complicated event. Thanks to David and everyone else who contributed.