Jim Romenesko, who made a career writing and aggregating news about news, has submitted his resignation to the Poynter Institute. Editors questioned his decision to leave certain source material unattributed — and quotations unused. After a daylong internecine Poynter feud and a protracted Twitter campaign on Mr. Romenesko’s behalf, the blogger stunned his 37,000 followers by tweeting news of his resignation this evening.
Poynter editor Julie Moos posted a lengthy screed detailing his alleged transgressions. But many professional journalists and Romenesko fans — two groups that tend to overlap — aren’t buying it. The Times’ Media Decoder post on the controversy was originally titled “Journalism Ethics Taken Too Seriously: Romenesko Scolded on His Own Blog.” That title has since been changed, but you can still spot it in the URL. Scores of young journalists will have trouble remembering an era before Jim Romenesko: He’s been blogging the news at Poynter for over twelve years.
Other journalists and media critics joined the chorus. Adam Clark Estes at Atlantic Wire has a phenomenal (well-aggregated) summary of the Romenesko defenders, a distinguished group including Jack Shafer, Michael Calderone, Jay Rosen, Tom Scocca, Alex Pareene, and Jeff Bercovici. Many argued that Poynter was taking a holier-than-thou position, or betraying its staple writer. Then there was the awkward case of Erika Fry, the assistant editor at the Columbia Journalism Review who first sniffed out the story, only to be subsequently scooped by Moos. According to Erik Wemple, Erika is not too happy: “I’m not sure exactly how I feel … I kind of wish I had written my story first.”
Not everyone is sad to see Romenesko go — maybe not even Romenesko himself, who had planned to retire soon anyway, and even asked to be freed from his contract seven weeks early. Choire Sicha at the Awl is happy to see him freed from the “whorey” arms of Poynter and its new blog, Romenesko+, which he accuses of becoming “intolerable.” Sicha saves the harshest criticism for Moos herself, branding her “ham-fisted.”
A long and fawning Poynter retrospective in August heaped laurels on their star blogger, concluding that “Poynter, it turns out, had been Romenesko’d.” The early de-Romenesko-fying of Poynter certainly hasn’t won the institute many friends. For all the debates over aggregation and Arianna, the father of news blogging drove a lot of traffic to a lot of journalists, just as they were starting their careers. And for readers who like news curation, hyperlinked context, and posts that source other posts that source even more posts (like this one), Romenesko was a patron saint.