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Apr. 14 2010 - 11:09 pm | 779 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

U.S. News & World Report rankings are out (though you wouldn’t know it from their countdown clock)

Big news tonight: The U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings are out. Are you desperate to find out how your graduate school has fared?

Our lawyerly readers at Above the Law are. Our post about the rankings is often one of most popular posts of the year. When an advanced copy of the rankings was leaked yesterday and we posted it, the traffic surge crashed our site for a short bit.

All people love rankings, but lawyers tend to be particularly obsessive, as theirs is a profession of prestige and whether you went to a top five law school or a top ten law school actually matters when it comes to getting a job. (My sympathies to NYU Law which has slipped to #6, and to Duke Law which slipped to #11 — there shall be black days on those campuses tomorrow.)

Officially, the U.S. News rankings come out at midnight tonight, with the print issue hitting stands tomorrow. U.S. News even has a little countdown clock, that at the time of my writing claims there’s over an hour until the rankings come out.

That clock continues to idiotically click down, even as the rankings are already live on the U.S. News site (they appear to have gone up at 10 p.m.) and two days after the rankings have been leaked on a number of websites including ours. USNWR, time to wake up and smell the digital copy!

U.S. News & World Report website around 10:15 p.m. Wed night

I realize that U.S. News wants to link the excitement with its hard copy magazine, from which it presumably earns more revenue, but by doing so, it is losing out on lots of digital traffic.

The rankings get leaked in advance every year. USNWR either has perpetual moles or the least loyal interns ever. When the leaked rankings came to our attention, we reached out to U.S. News for confirmation but were told — after we’d already run our story — that no stories could be run until the U.S. News embargo “lifts at 12:01 AM Thursday, timed with the new rankings online.”

(Apparently, they actually meant 10:00 p.m. Wednesday.)

U.S. News & World Report is stuck in an old media mindset. Embargoes in the digital age are frankly kind of silly. If the information has already leaked on various sites around the Web, the seal is broken. As every party-going college kid knows, once the seal breaks…

Since the seal breaks every single year, maybe U.S. News is complicit in the leaking. Maybe it’s part of a campaign to get people excited about the upcoming magazine. But why are they robbing themselves of the online traffic it drives? Why not be the first to post the rankings instead of letting sites like ours get the glory? And why not at least fix the timing on your online clock?


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  1. collapse expand

    “All people love rankings?” I’m sorry but I don’t. That’s the second or third worst exaggeration I’ve heard today.

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