Jim Romenesko’s departure sparks strong reaction, criticism

Jim Romenesko’s messy departure from Poynter sparked a flood of reactions from mainstream media and bloggers. A handful of writers agreed with Poynter Online Director Julie Moos that Romenesko had used “questionable attribution” in some of his posts. But many defended Romenesko’s practices, and several criticized Moos’ handling of the situation.

The Columbia Journalism Review – which initially raised the attribution question in an email to Moos for an upcoming story – called Romensko’s attribution practices “sloppy.” CJR’s Justin Peters wrote:

It is odd to criticize a journalism ethics institute for caring too much about journalism ethics, and it is disingenuous to say that there was no error here out of a historical respect and affinity for Jim Romenesko (and the traffic he commands) and an uncertainty about whether aggregators should be subject to the same rules as other journalists.

Media critic Eric Deggans at the Poynter-owned St. Petersburg Times wrote, “Somebody has to start drawing lines here. And I don’t blame Poynter for saying they want to be as specific as possible about what their writers write and what their writers quote.”

But those views were in the minority. NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen tweeted that the attribution concerns are a “non-issue”; David Carr at The New York Times said Moos’ post explaining the situation “seemed like an answer in search of a problem.” Writing in the Awl, Choire Sicha said, “Romenesko’s entire practice was about giving credit, in ways that virtually no other blog has been.” Sicha said he knows no writers who’ve complained about Romenesko misappropriating their work.

“Jim Romenesko didn’t plagiarize and my friends at the Poynter Institute were wrong to suggest that he did,” wrote Steve Buttry, the director of community engagement and social media at Journal Register Co. “It’s a punctuation offense, not a serious breach of journalism ethics.”

Some observers drew a distinction between traditional journalism and aggregation, saying that Poynter inappropriately applied the ethics of the former to a practitioner of the latter. Reuters blogger Felix Salmon wrote:

Moos is using the standards of original journalism, here, to judge a blogger who was never about original journalism. Copy-and-pasting other people’s stories is what Romenesko did, at high volume, and with astonishing speed and reliability, for many years. And the media community, including Poynter, loved him for it.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post explained part of the back-story of the events leading to the break-up. Erik Wemple noted that CJR’s Erika Fry first noticed the attribution issue when she was researching an upcoming story. When Fry emailed Moos a list of questions, Moos chose to go public on Poynter.org. Moos credited Fry for the discovery, but it preempted Fry’s story.

“I’m not sure exactly how I feel,” Fry told the Post. “I mean, I still plan to write something and it’s a broader story, so in some ways I kind of wish I had written my story first.”

The Post also reported on an email exchange with Romenesko in which he explained his decision to resign from Poynter yesterday, seven weeks before he was planning to “semi-retire” and start a new site, JimRomenesko.com. (The plan was for Romenesko to become  a part-time Poynter employee and post “casually” to his blog.) Romenesko told the Post’s Paul Farhi that Poynter had expressed concern earlier this week that the new site would compete with Poynter.org for advertising.

“I wondered if they were trying to discredit me so advertisers wouldn’t touch me,” Romenesko wrote in his email to The Post. “I have no evidence, though, that that was their motivation.”

He added that he “thought it was best” to leave Poynter after the attribution questions surfaced. “My heart was no longer in the job,” Romenesko told the Post.

Moos has responded to the Post and Nieman Journalism Lab about the advertising issue, writing in an email that Romenesko’s intention to post ads seemed to contradict his purpose of a “hobby site.” Those concerns were resolved on Wednesday before the attribution issue arose; she had planned to tell Romenesko that Poynter preferred “that he not solicit or accept advertising from our clients but leave it to him to do what he felt was right.”

More reaction: The Preposterous Plagiarism Assault on Romenesko (Gawker) | Jim Romenesko Quits Poynter After Controversy Over Attribution (The Huffington Post) | Media Critics Rush to Defend Jim Romenesko’s Right to Quote (Atlantic Wire) | ‘Original Media Aggregator’ Romenesko Resigns From Poynter Institute (paidContent.org) |  Jim Romenesko Resigns Over Lifted Quotes (New York) | Jim Romenesko and the case of the missing quote marks (The Washington Post) | Jim Romenesko and the perils of aggregation (Media Nation)

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_P4EERC37P6KITBKRVZVHEWS4DI George J

    I think reasonable minds can disagree as to whether Romenesko’s methods crossed the line. But what is most mystifying to me is that Moos was shocked, shocked to find this going on in her backyard. Either she is guilty of lax supervison of her underlings (“should have known”) or she did know and was panicked by the impending revelations from the Columbia person. It’s all rather like Reagan on Iran-Contra, she’s damned in both instances. Worse, though, is her pathetic attempt to replace Romenesko with her own plodding pontifications. Seems to me we have a case of: if you can’t hack it in journalism, you go into teaching it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_P4EERC37P6KITBKRVZVHEWS4DI George J

    I think reasonable minds can disagree as to whether Romenesko’s methods crossed the line. But what is most mystifying to me is that Moos was shocked, shocked to find this going on in her backyard. Either she is guilty of lax supervison of her underlings (“should have known”) or she did know and was panicked by the impending revelations from the Columbia person. It’s all rather like Reagan on Iran-Contra, she’s damned in both instances. Worse, though, is her pathetic attempt to replace Romenesko with her own plodding pontifications. Seems to me we have a case of: if you can’t hack it in journalism, you go into teaching it.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, I correct my statement that Poynter removed the original Moos article. That was caused by a faulty link in Moos’ followup piece about Romenesko’s resignation. But the rest of what I said stands. Poynter needs to fix that link and make it easier to access the original piece.

  • Anonymous

    I find it disturbing that Poynter apparently has removed the original, wretched Julie Moos article laying out her criticisms of Jim Romenesko’s work. I’m no online ethics expert, but it seems to me that’s not an honest and transparent way to address Poynter’s egregious errors in handling this situation. Poynter should leave Moos’ original article up and publish a followup, hopefully explaining and apologizing for its errors and announcing appropriate personnel actions. In its followup article, Poynter also needs to be honest about why the recent changes were made in the medianews site in terms of the longer items that led to this overaggregation or plagiarism or fair-use problem, whatever you want to call it, and who was the responsible for those changes. I still don’t buy Moos’ comment in the Fry CJR piece that “no conscious decision” was made to lengthen the items, and Romenesko himself commented Friday that there was a conscious decision to do longer items while he was away on vacation this summer. So let’s see Poynter publicly address this and put its house in order, not delete the problematic material a la Nixon and his tapes. The original Moos piece could and should be used as a teaching tool, as with Coca Cola’s formula change and the Netflix Quixster bobble, in how not to mess with success.

  • Anonymous

    I watched the evolution of the Romenesco column with annoyance as it became folded into its sponsor’s identity. This is a very old story of professional jealousy, in this case of journalism educators and sundry retired editors who couldn’t let a wildly successful one-man show do its job unmolested.  

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    That doesn’t make a lot of sense. So, if people link, then they don’t have to quote, paraphrase, or rewrite? They can just copy and paste?

    You must be one of the many here who think aggregating and writing are the same thing.

  • Earnest Prole

    Quotation marks are an archaic way of asking a reader to trust you. Links in the place of quotes allow and invite readers to verify instantly, and thus render quotation marks redundant for the purpose of trust. Every consumer of online content intuitively knows this.

    Poynter sounds like a buggy-whip maker who went to sleep in 1890 and woke up in 1930 to find himself out of business. Go back to sleep, Poynter.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    And yet many of the lazy journalists here took his posts as gospel.

    I think people who read him thought as long as he was linking to a source, then somehow everything was OK. And it might have been for some sources, although I still think it’s basic journalism to find out if the original article is true. Many people pick this up in the first year of reporting. I know I didn’t rely on the competing paper to have the facts right — running with another report without verifying it is asking for trouble.

    The real problem, as I’ve mentioned before, is Romenesko also would pull from bloggers like Jim Hopkins and Ruth Holladay who clearly have an agenda that targets Gannett. Those posts never should have gone live until they had been reviewed. For the ranters who will claim that is somehow censoring or sitting on news — it’s not. The information still would have been live at the bloggers’ sites.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Actually, it wasn’t quickly. I stayed on the high road until it was apparent things had degenerated into the usual, gutlessly anonymous comments that have nothing to do with anything substantive.

    Seems to me from reading your post here that you are not commenting on the issue here. And I long, long ago stopped listening to lectures from people who claimed credentials like yours but who didn’t seem too interested in rising above the level of mud-throwing you exhibit here.

    So either start making a point about the issue or face continued ridicule. Again, your train of thought still seems to be boarding. I’d guess you are probably one of the many burned-out, lazy editors who gets by on the clout of a title alone.

  • Anonymous

    Folks, can I butt in here and point out that Romenesko himself made news Friday (to my knowledge his first substantive public response to what Moos and Fry wrote) in reply to my earlier post? He contradicted Julie Moos by saying there was a conscious decision to make the medianews pieces longer, apparently while he was out on vacation. If you all are news people, isn’t that worthy of note? After all, according to CJR’s Fry, the real problem arose when the medianews pieces became longer and started violating the fair-use rule. Moos denied in Fry’s piece that she made such a decision. How about offering some thoughts on what looks to me, unless I’m missing something, like a key issue for Poynter’s top management and for Poynter readers (and former readers).

  • Anonymous

    Robert, interesting that you so quickly stooped to name calling. Point is, comment boards are placed for people to, um, comment. Free flow if ideas, that kind of thing that might evade someone with skills only you possess, namely to turn an entire online community against you, much the way Poynter has done to itself.

    Some people choose to remain anonymous. That’s fine. Take them for who they are. Who are you? Me? I’m an editor at one of the nation’s largest papers, and have worked before this at other large papers, all with Pulitzers in their CV. I’ve been in the business for more than 30 years and have adapted to the changes. Seems you can’t let go.

    But its time.

    Perhaps you should comment about the issue and not about the commenters. If that’s your one note, though, I guess play it as well as possible. But no one is listening.

    Keith Kohn

  • http://www.writingRX.tumblr.com Don Bates

    Yeah, not plagiarism in the strict sense of the term, but definitely a breach of common-sense ethics. Nonetheless, you can be sure I’ll follow Jim should he start a site in his own name.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eva.schweitzer Eva Schweitzer

    Not only that, I badly need someone to repair my fridge, so why don’t you stop posting here and come over? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/eva.schweitzer Eva Schweitzer

    Erika Fry is not a real journalist, she is an aggregator herself who does not attribute her sources at all. This is an example of her work for HuffPo about Thailand.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erika-fry/bush-goes-looking-for-rel_b_117295.html

    She names not one single source, instead, she mentions a meeting of some unnamed “editors” as a source of information – was she one of them? Did she read the story in a paper afterwards? Did she talk to them? It is not attributed. She uses phrases like “It was speculated”, or rumors, and the only person she pretends to have talked to is an unnamed Muslim kid who may or may not exist. This is where the critique comes from?

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    You should study harder for your Humanity 95 class.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Give it up, dude. You’re starting to become sad and repetitive.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Go away. You have no point.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Go away. You have no point.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Flagged. Here we go again …

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Flagged. Here we go again …

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    You’re an idiot, Keith. So, if all comment boards are like this, then it’s somehow right? I think your train of thought is still boarding.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    You’re an idiot, Keith. So, if all comment boards are like this, then it’s somehow right? I think your train of thought is still boarding.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    It was years ago. The original e-mail is gone. But good try with the discrediting there.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    It was years ago. The original e-mail is gone. But good try with the discrediting there.

  • Anonymous

    Dude, your posts are growing tiresome. The listed IDs on here are identifiable to those of us with more than a single point if view. Get a grip. All comment boards are like this. Move along, puhlease.

    Keith Kohn

  • Anonymous

    Actually, after reading the Fry piece, Moos needs to have resigned yesterday.

  • Anonymous

    You’re anonymous, too, Knilands. No one here knows who you are.

  • Anonymous

    She’s taking time off from studying for her Journalism 101 class.

  • Anonymous

    You’ve been asked, but still haven’t posted your credentials, nimrod.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, your issue with Romenesko was so important you don’t even know what it was.

  • Anonymous

    a very small handful “agreed.” Keep spinning it, Poynter. You’re just digging yourself deeper in the abyss.

  • Stuart Falk

    This is so feeble, it nauseates me. As soon as Jim launches his new site, I’m out of here. I guess, though, this mediocrity reflects just what one might expect from people who choose to live in a cultural wasteland like St. Petersburg, Florida.

  • http://rightnetwork.com Jack Reno

    And Hochberg joins Moos in the line up for Marching Morons of Poynter.  You people have blown it and blown it badly and you insist of keeping alive the ability you have to both blow it and reduce yourselves to insignificance. 

  • Anonymous

    Who misunderstood the attribution? Nobody whoever had a story linked on the site . . . for 12 years.

    Poynter likes to talk about ethics in journalism. But one of the most unethical aspects of the journalism business is the terrible way that companies treat employees.

  • Anonymous

    He didn’t want the credit. His site was all about directing your attention to “scoops” by other people, and every item was attributed to these sources. There are plenty of journalists who steal the work of others. Sometimes it’s the editor’s sin: the New York Post has hung the word “exclusive” over stories uncovered by other journalists. Romenesko’s site was called Mediagossip.com until it came to Poynter, which renamed it Romenesko’s MediaNews (and now, even as he contributed fewer items to it, Romenesko+). Poynter profited nicely from Romenesko’s work and his identity. When is the last time you saw Romenesko claiming credit for the items on the blog? When was the last time you saw him on TV?

  • Anonymous

    On Jim Romenesko’s departure 1 hour ago
    I have been a journalist since 1961, have taught at Columbia Journalism and five other colleges, including Colorado College (a course called Politics, Ethics & Journalism) for the past 19 years, and for 14 years ran the Minnesota News Council, an independent, ethics-based agency designed to promote trust between the press and the public. Your behavior toward Romernesko makes you look like a fool.
    Gary Gilson, Minneapolis

  • Anonymous

    I have been a journalist since 1961, have taught at Columbia Journalism and five other colleges, including Colorado College (a course called Politics, Ethics & Journalism) for the past 19 years, and for 14 years ran the Minnesota News Council, an independent, ethics-based agency designed to promote trust between the press and the public. Your behavior toward Romernesko makes you look like a fool.
    Gary Gilson, Minneapolis

  • John Futch

    Good god! You have managed to take something informative and wonderful and turn it into something awful. Moos and her Poynter keepers are an embarrassment to people who care about good journalism.

    On the other hand, there are probably good jobs that might interest them at Penn State.

  • http://www.newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

    Not putting quotes around words that aren’t yours is sloppy and improper. It’s not at all universally clear which were his. Intentions aren’t very relevant if you micommunicate. It’s not very important in the context it was done in, but it’s a fair point.

  • Anonymous

    Poynter should remove all content ever posted by Romenesko since his credibility cannot be believed. He has be able to get away with posting rumors and gossip for years and has never verified any content. Poynter will never have credibility in any journalism circles unless it removes all content from the web and its archives that was ever posted under Romenesko’s name.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Comes with the territory here. Instead of reasoned debate, we get anonymous rants. Some of Poynter’s faculty even blasted that. Of course, they didn’t push for change or propose a change, but we’re talking about Poynter here.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Comes with the territory here. Instead of reasoned debate, we get anonymous rants. Some of Poynter’s faculty even blasted that. Of course, they didn’t push for change or propose a change, but we’re talking about Poynter here.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NEDAI7WEYP5LJY4QQGDU4MUAFU Rich

    All content posted and attributed to Jim Romenesko should be removed since it’s accuracy and credibility cannot be verified. Poynter should be proactive in acknowledging that Romenesko posted content that was not vetted and often was rumor and gossip.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NEDAI7WEYP5LJY4QQGDU4MUAFU Rich

    All content posted and attributed to Jim Romenesko should be removed since it’s accuracy and credibility cannot be verified. Poynter should be proactive in acknowledging that Romenesko posted content that was not vetted and often was rumor and gossip.

  • Anonymous

    Why are you so sarcastic, Mr. Knilands? 

  • Anonymous

    But the other writers are boring and in no way make one want to read their work … sad to see mediocrity so desperate. 

  • Anonymous

    The ‘old’ rules do make sense, but in my mind this case has nothing to do with ‘old’ versus ‘new’ (and in my mind there is no distinction: plagiarism is bad, and one who engages in it should be fired. But Mr. Romenesko is not and was not a plagiarist. 

  • Anonymous

    Putting quotes around “no conscious decision” is silly.

  • Anonymous

    Ms. Moos, when can we expect to see your letter of resignation? Perhaps you can go off to start your own site .. you’ll have an audience of one.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    “He didn’t want the credit.” It was on a site with his name. He was paid for the work. How did he “not want the credit”?

  • http://twitter.com/John_Royal John Royal

    You are correct.  I did read Fry’s post, and it’s remarkable how her problem appears to be with Moos and not with Romensko.  So apologies to Ms. Fry.  As for Moos and Poynter, I’m still extremely disappointed.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    You mean, like the ranting hordes have done here? And do daily? I guess if you’re anonymous, then you don’t have to worry about such things.

    Pathetically ignorant. 

  • Anonymous

    Update: We now have a potential Nixonesque situation with Julie Moos. According to Erika Fry’s CJR article this afternoon, Moos said there was “no conscious decision” to make the Poynter medianews pieces longer. But Romenesko says in a comment responding to my comment on the Poynter site that there was indeed a conscious decision made while he was on vacation. Who to believe? I think we need a Watergate committee here to look for gaps on the tape. Seems to me this ups the stakes for the Moos administration. Here’s Romenesko’s comment in response to my comment:
    Romenesko 44 minutes ago in reply to HarrisWriter
    >> Moos claims there was “no conscious decision” [PLEASE NOTE THAT I PUT THAT IN QUOTES] to make pieces longer, There was, in fact, a conscious decision to make the pieces longer. I went on vacation for a week during the summer and my former Poynter colleagues began posting articles long enough that they could justify tweeting back to Poynter, and not the source of the story. That is when this change in ROMENESKO occured.

  • Anonymous

    This is a very simple situation in my opinion. I have read and enjoyed Jim Romenesko’s blog for a very long time. Bottom line for me is that he should be held to the same standards that we expect other bloggers to be held to. In fact as a journalist blogging about other journalists, he should probably be held to even higher standards.

    How can we as journalists complain when bloggers take our words and pass them off as their own and allow one of our own, no matter how noble his intentions might be, to do the same?
    As journalists, we are taught to attribute, attribute, attribute. We paraphrase awkward quotes and attribute any passages we lift from other publications, reporters or authors.
    If a blogger lifted a lead or entire nutgraph from a journalist and did not attribute it, we would be furious. Why don’t we hold one of our own to the same standard when he is reporting on what is happening in our industry?
    I don’t believe there is any evil intent in what Romenesko has been doing; but perhaps over the years he has gotten a bit complacent when it comes to attribution. How difficult would it have been to attribute and put quote marks on the passages that were written by someone else.?

  • Anonymous

    This is a very simple situation in my opinion. I have read and enjoyed Jim Romenesko’s blog for a very long time. Bottom line for me is that he should be held to the same standards that we expect other bloggers to be held to. In fact as a journalist blogging about other journalists, he should probably be held to even higher standards.

    How can we as journalists complain when bloggers take our words and pass them off as their own and allow one of our own, no matter how noble his intentions might be, to do the same?
    As journalists, we are taught to attribute, attribute, attribute. We paraphrase awkward quotes and attribute any passages we lift from other publications, reporters or authors.
    If a blogger lifted a lead or entire nutgraph from a journalist and did not attribute it, we would be furious. Why don’t we hold one of our own to the same standard when he is reporting on what is happening in our industry?
    I don’t believe there is any evil intent in what Romenesko has been doing; but perhaps over the years he has gotten a bit complacent when it comes to attribution. How difficult would it have been to attribute and put quote marks on the passages that were written by someone else.?

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Congrats for being the 500th person to post that same idea. I think you get a bowl of soup for that.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Congrats for being the 500th person to post that same idea. I think you get a bowl of soup for that.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Again, all the more reason that citing “links” as sources is not a strong form of citation. Links go bad. For all the ranting of the “modern” crowd here, they seem to overlook that concept.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    Again, all the more reason that citing “links” as sources is not a strong form of citation. Links go bad. For all the ranting of the “modern” crowd here, they seem to overlook that concept.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    How about a link to yours? I’d like to know your credentials. I’d bet they are not strong.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    How about a link to yours? I’d like to know your credentials. I’d bet they are not strong.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    You’re right there. As I said in another post that has yet to appear and might not, he was fortunate to have the chance to resign. Similar journalists in similar circumstances would not have been given that privilege.

    Also, I would be the ranting hordes here would be singing a different tune if their stories were being “aggregated” almost word-for-word by someone else over a period of 10-12 years. Same with all the anonymous attacks here — I’d bet the Romenesko defenders would scream to the skies if they came under fire by a pack of nameless, petty jackals like the ones here.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wenalway Robert Knilands

    DaGuerre:

    Several years ago, I did question at least one of Romenesko’s items. I don’t remember the specifics, but the sourcing was so nebulous that the item was barely above rumor status.

    Eventually it was pulled, but not until the lazy journalist hordes — similar to the harpies fouling the threads here with stupid comments — had run with the rumor.

    To answer your question about no previous investigation into the lack of paraphrasing: If done manually, that would be a large task to undertake. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s not something many independent bloggers would take on.

    In retrospect, of course, I would have enjoyed the chance to call this stuff into question. But I would admit CJR has a lot more clout than many of us, and we can see all the ranting and fit-throwing that has followed CJR’s work. I tend to believe the matter would have been ignored and swept under the rug if it had been brought up by other parties.

  • Anonymous

    In the wake of Romenesko’s “retirement,” I noticed today that Poynter gives bylines and photos to staffers who do 300-word (approx) rewrites of stories — fully attributed, of course — from newspapers and other media. To me, this is totally ridiculous and hypocritical. I read Romenesko for the news he broke about the profession. I always turned to him because he broke more news and did it more accurately that the many other web sites that do it. I don’t need anyone to rewrite stories for me. I can find and read them myself if I want to and I’ll bet that the majority of the people in the profession feel the same way. That’s why I will now look at Poynter only occasionally.

  • http://twitter.com/rjbox Roberto

    Frankly, I have never read anything in POynter other than Romenesko. Who is Julie Moos? who cares?

  • http://doran.pacifist.net/ Doran

    Well, the advertising aspect certainly adds a new dimension to this story.

  • Anonymous

    Love the idea that the new editor stole some reporter’s story. Like when the WSJ chief was proven a liar.

  • Anonymous

    Probably the most idiotic comment I’ve ever read here. But I’d expect as much from someone who writes “Romanesko.”

  • Anonymous

    Look at Erika Fry’s article on this. Like a lot of people, I thought she was the instigator in this ridiculous episode. Instead she was actually looking at the legitimate problems of the Poynter site’s mandated longer aggregation that steals from journalists. Moos turned it into a Romenesko issue. Don’t lump Fry in with the inappropriate actions of Poynter.
    http://www.cjr.org/behind_the_news/the_romenesko_saga.php

  • Anonymous

    His attribution wasn’t “sloppy” — you always knew where it was coming from. He didn’t want the credit.

  • Anonymous

    The way Jim was let go NEEDS TO BE INVESTIGATED BY THE POYNTER BOARD.

    In a nutshell, here’s why: Poynter’s pompous preening pontificators often preach ethics but seldom talk about human resources or personnel management.

    This week, you publicly vomited on one of your best employees and let the world know it.

    I also want the board to answer if Moos rushed to judgment (and publication) to head off some under-30ish CJR blogger — a CJR blog, b.t.w., that misspelled Jim’s name!

  • Anonymous

    I tend to think I’ll stay with Poynter. No beef with Romanesko for plagiarism, but I didn’t like some of the things he did, like feeding a tip to a reporter so he’d have another scandal to promote.

  • Ralph Frattura

    I’m with the people who say this was a vast overreaction by Poynter.  
    I have read Jim Romenesko for years and valued the service he provided.  Still, you wouldn’t call the column art; you couldn’t call it journalism; and I don’t think I’d even say it’s creative.  Many writers and editors could do it as well, I believe.  But Romenesko got there first and seems to have worked hard at his little corner of the industry.
    He didn’t try to deceive.  The words weren’t high-value rarities; they were almost always workmanlike arrangements, always pointing to the original story, where, hell, you could see for yourself that the summary used some of the original text.  In a field with no clear rules, this was how Romenesko did it.
    I’m no expert on the aggregators, but I think it’s done better by The Week magazine, which, incidentally, uses quote marks in the way that would have allowed Poynter and Romenesko to avoid this dance of death.
    So, maybe, in an arena where there’s no established way to do things, Romenesko is at worst guilty of not evolving quickly enough to new — and maybe better — ways to work. I think Poynter is guilty of doctrinaire earnestness and hyperventilating at the thought of being criticized by CJR.

  • Ralph Frattura

    I’m with the people who say this was a vast overreaction by Poynter. 
    I have read Jim Romenesko for years and valued the service he provided.  Still, you wouldn’t call the column art; you couldn’t call it journalism; and I don’t think I’d even say it’s creative.  Many writers and editors could do it as well, I believe.  But Romenesko got there first and seems to have worked hard at his little corner of the industry.
    He didn’t try to deceive.  The words weren’t high-value rarities; they were almost always workmanlike arrangements, always pointing to the original story, where, hell, you could see for yourself that the summary used some of the original text.  In a field with no clear rules, this was how Romenesko did it.
    I’m no expert on the aggregators, but I think it’s done better by The Week magazine, which, incidentally, uses quote marks in the way that would have allowed Poynter and Romenesko to avoid this dance of death.
    So, maybe, in an arena where there’s no established way to do things, Romenesko is at worst guilty of not evolving quickly enough to new — and maybe better — ways to work. I think Poynter is guilty of doctrinaire earnestness and hyperventilating at the thought of being criticized by CJR.

  • Anonymous

    Sad to see that we will lose Jim’s great work due to this overblown controversy.
     
    Jim has been a daily must-read for me and many in my shop.
     
    He has always been completely transparent about what he does – basically provides a guide to what is going on in the industry, with complete links for stories that worth reading at the source.
     
    Sad day.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Only a grand total of TWO citations of support here for Poynter and they both have conflicts of interest. St. Pete Times underwrites Poynter, and CJR is home of the reporter who started it all and has yet to file her story on the whole thing. AMAZINGLY,   they both end up at the top of the story on Poynter, well before the jump.

    Hey, Poynter — isn’t this kind of self-serving spin unethical? Or is it OK because it’s all attributed with quotes?

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Only a grand total of TWO citations of support here for Poynter and they both have conflicts of interest. St. Pete Times underwrites Poynter, and CJR is home of the reporter who started it all and has yet to file her story on the whole thing. AMAZINGLY,   they both end up at the top of the story on Poynter, well before the jump.

    Hey, Poynter — your bias is showing. 

  • http://twitter.com/LesBowen Les Bowen

    My favorite part is how the professional chin-stroker at CJR lost her precious “scoop.” Awwwww.
    I really, fervently hope someone loses their job over this. Other than Romenesko, who is the only reason most journalists ever logged onto this site.

  • http://twitter.com/LesBowen Les Bowen

    My favorite part is how the professional chin-stroker at CJR lost her precious “scoop.” Awwwww.
    I really, fervently hope someone loses their job over this. Other than Romenesko, who is the only reason most journalists ever logged onto this site.

  • Anonymous

    Methinks the Lady doth protest too much.
    (With apologies to What’shisname.)

  • Anonymous

    Methinks the Lady doth protest too much.
    (With apologies to What’shisname.)

  • Anonymous

    What an utterly inane proposition, for three or four reasons that come to mind with no effort. Chiefly, it presupposes that everything in the world is a zero-sum game, particularly news stories: If people are paying attention to this, then logically, they can’t possibly be paying attention to anything else. I will admit, though, that until now I hadn’t heard of these “wars” this guy mentions, nor of this boy-boffing at Penn State. I just searched Google News and neither of those things were there – only item after item about someone “doing her job” — trying to wreck Jim Romenesko’s reputation. So I dunno.

    Maybe I should track down a former journalism professor who puts “Ph.D” after his name for advice on this — clearly, actual working journalists aren’t the go-to people on something like this. 

  • http://www.edcone.com/ Ed Cone

    “…many defended Romenesko’s practices, and several criticized Moos’ handling of the situation.”

    This works if you pronounce “many” and “several” as “most.” Otherwise it’s poor reporting.

    Serious question: Did nobody at Poynter read Romenesko’s blog before this week?

  • Anonymous

    I could also point to the recent analytics report saying the media has missed the boat on the mobile web as it did the Internet and wonder, why the effort and energies devoted at the nation’s top media issues site went on an issue of utterly no importance.

  • Anonymous

    I could also point to the recent analytics report saying the media has missed the boat on the mobile web as it did the Internet and wonder, why the effort and energies devoted at the nation’s top media issues site went on an issue of utterly no importance.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t stand holier than thou people. Congratulations Saint Julie. I deleted Poynter from my favorites list. Every journalist who visited Romanesko understands what he does and how he does it–and it in no way resembles plagarism.

  • http://globaldashboard.org davidsteven

    A shamefully passive/aggressive article dressed up as ‘balance’. Nauseating.

  • KL Smith

    Don’t ignore the advertisers/unique visitors issue in this messy break-up. It’s well-known inside Poynter that Romenesko drives a disproportionately large portion of the web traffic and advertisers to the Poynter.org site. Moos has been worried about this for at least a few years and, in part, redesigned the web site to try and bump up traffic to other writers and features. With Romenesko well on his way to doing his own site, which could be fatal to Moos’ site (and her job), she makes a pre-emptive strike to try and discredit him before the advertisers go with him. Poynter is becoming more irrelevant every day. I now see very little reason to go to Poynter.org and lots of reasons to continue to read Romenesko.

  • KL Smith

    Don’t ignore the advertisers/unique visitors issue in this messy break-up. It’s well-known inside Poynter that Romenesko drives a disproportionately large portion of the web traffic and advertisers to the Poynter.org site. Moos has been worried about this for at least a few years and, in part, redesigned the web site to try and bump up traffic to other writers and features. With Romenesko well on his way to doing his own site, which could be fatal to Moos’ site (and her job), she makes a pre-emptive strike to try and discredit him before the advertisers go with him. Poynter is becoming more irrelevant every day. I now see very little reason to go to Poynter.org and lots of reasons to continue to read Romenesko.

  • Jerome Weeks

    It doesn’t help that both the link in this post to the “messy departure story” AND the link in Julie Moos’ post about “questionable attributions” currently go nowhere.

  • Anonymous

    Now that Poynter’s little bureaucrats have sucked all the oxygen out of this place, I’m anxiously awaiting Romenesko’s emergence at his eponymous site.

  • Sam Park

    Why not get rid of Mrs. Moos and put that in quotation mark.
    I’m certain that no outrage will be felt.

  • Anonymous

    Why is it, that no one at Poynter, an institution that teaches journalism that focuses “on the highest standards of journalistic values” brought this up before yesterday?

    And why is it that the none of the handful of journalists now backing Poynter’s decision and criticizing Romenesko, ever raised this issue before?

    Among Romenesko’s regular readers were thousands, perhaps tens of thousands professional journalists; people who know plagiarism and sloppy reporting when it occurs. Why didn’t any of them raise a red flag before yesterday?

    But a small minority, like Eric Deggans are now jumping on the bandwagon and decrying Romenesko’s transgressions.

    Deggans, the media watchdog for Poynter’s St. Petersburg Times should know plagiarism and sloppy reporting when he sees it.

    But it wasn’t until yesterday that he finally got around to writing about something that was occurring in his backyard for years: “Somebody has to start drawing lines here,” he writes. “And I don’t blame Poynter for
    saying they want to be as specific as possible about what their writers
    write and what their writers quote.” Now that’s really taking a stand! Is it any wonder people mistrust journalists?

    Why did media critic Deggans wait until yesterday to start start taking his self-righteous stand against Romenesko’s practices?

    Deggans should have been one of the first to spot the lack of quotation marks and missing attribution in Romesnesko’s writings given the fact that he linked to Deggans’ pieces on a regular basis.

    For the record, Romenesko linked to my blog on several occasions and I never saw any attempt by him to pass off my writing as his own.

    Here’s a short blog post of mine from last year.
    http://randompixels.blogspot.com/2010/09/search-is-over.html

    And here’s how Romenesko blogged about it.
    http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/romenesko/105605/photographers-search-for-baby-from-1980-mariel-boatlift-photo-has-happy-ending/

    Note his full attribution and use of quotation marks.

    Here are two more recent posts by Romenesko with plenty of quotation marks and block quotes:
    http://www.poynter.org/tag/miami-herald/

    Seriously Poynter, what’s the real story here?

    Bill Cooke
    Miami

  • Mark Perkins

    That’s a good point. I will also not watch sports or go out to dinner or grab a drink with friends, because we surely shouldn’t be attending to pedestrian matters until the world is perfect.

  • Mark Perkins

    That’s a good point. I will also not watch sports or go out to dinner or grab a drink with friends, because we surely shouldn’t be attending to pedestrian matters until the world is perfect.

  • Mark Perkins

    Perhaps some irony in Moos scooping Fry for a post about journalistic integrity. More irony in–apparently, anyway–using a trumped-up concern about integrity to smear a future competitor. Nice. Moos seems big into “the letter of the law.” Congratulations on destroying your own credibility and damaging if not destroying Poynter’s…

  • http://twitter.com/John_Royal John Royal

    You’re right.  My bad.  How dare I come to a media/journalism site and discuss a media/journalism issue.  Where are my priorities?  By the way, do you mind if I ask what you’re doing wasting time here, since, as you say, there are far more important things going on in the world?

  • Tracy Everbach

    Hey, did you know that some children got raped by a predator at Penn State, several wars are going on in the world, journalists are getting laid off right and left, a presidential election is upcoming and numerous other interesting news events are going on? Stop attacking Julie Moos for doing her job and go report the news. Thanks.

  • http://www.thisistrue.com Randy Cassingham

    There IS a big hit on an important reputation here — on Poynter, not Romenesko. Were we misled by his actions? Not at all. If there’s misdirection going on here, it’s only at Moos’s hand. This was handled very, VERY badly.

  • Anonymous

    Oh! So advertising dollars were at issue here too?

    Hey, Poynter execs: INTERNAL.INVESTIGATION.OF.HOW.THIS.WAS.HANDLED ….. SOON.

    Take your time, though, and come to conclusions BEFORE you go public with the results.

    –bm

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R3SWIHVNAUINMRH4ASCYOSL2P4 JamesK

    Julie Moos should be forced to resign for the way she handled this matter.  Her unprofessional management turned this into a huge story that will not die.  

  • Dale Eisman

    Prediction: If Romenesko’s new site is a re-creation of the original we all knew and loved, or even something reasonably close to that, Poynter’s competition with him here will wither and die within a few months. And Poynter will have only itself to blame

  • Anonymous

    That Moos would cower to the fossils at CJR, who are still wondering what happened to hot type, rather than stand by Romenesko and realize that in a digitized environment the old rules don’t always make sense, is the true travesty here.

    So CJR was going to write a story. So what? Jim could have linked to that, too.

    Moos needs to resign. Now.

  • http://twitter.com/taylorbright taylorbright

    Can we please do away with this “attribution issue” fantasy? This isn’t about attribution any more than it’s about Leprechauns. It’s about a red herring thrown out by Poynter and Julie Moos. If there had been an (unaddressed) concern by Poynter about advertisers, why wasn’t that included in the post, and why wasn’t it mentioned when Moos said she talked to Romenesko about the supposed “attribution issue?” And, can we do away with the “Wemple defense” of Poynter that all they asked was Romenesko be edited? This is about an employee being railroaded in a deceitful and public manner by his employer after they began to feel threatened. I hope there’s an internal investigation about this episode because at every step (including the above post) Poynter has betrayed the values it supposedly championed and in the act it has betrayed itself as the hypocritical institution it has evidently become.

  • http://twitter.com/taylorbright taylorbright

    Can we please do away with this “attribution issue” fantasy? This isn’t about attribution any more than it’s about Leprechauns. It’s about a red herring thrown out by Poynter and Julie Moos. If there had been an (unaddressed) concern by Poynter about advertisers, why wasn’t that included in the post, and why wasn’t it mentioned when Moos said she talked to Romenesko about the supposed “attribution issue?” And, can we do away with the “Wemple defense” of Poynter that all they asked was Romenesko be edited? This is about an employee being railroaded in a deceitful and public manner by his employer after they began to feel threatened. I hope there’s an internal investigation about this episode because at every step (including the above post) Poynter has betrayed the values it supposedly championed and in the act it has betrayed itself as the hypocritical institution it has evidently become.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OPD6KPGJFAJDSSDCKX66GCW4JE Del

    Utterly idiotic. This trivial matter could have been handled much better and in a quieter fashion. Moos shows herself to be petty, divisive leader. Stupid is as stupid does.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OPD6KPGJFAJDSSDCKX66GCW4JE Del

    Utterly idiotic. This trivial matter could have been handled much better and in a quieter fashion. Moos shows herself to be petty, divisive leader. Stupid is as stupid does.

  • http://twitter.com/strobist David Hobby

    Poynter wasn’t the first traditional media organization to utterly fail to understand the web, and it won’t be the last. Ironic that it was the Director of Online that stepped in it so badly, though.

    I’ll be curious to see who emerges as the “Poynter” for the digital age. Because it won’t be these guys, that’s for sure.

  • Anonymous

    My last visit to this site.

  • Anonymous

    It was a bad, bad call my Moos. Period. But did she learn anything? Nah. Good bye Pointer.

  • http://www.newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

    His attribution was sloppy, but hardly anyone cares. It’s undoubtedly all about the ad dollars. Poynter really screwed itself by allowing a rift to grow over the years, and finally now by making a pre-emptive strike against an independent Romenesko blog (with advertisers). Moos seized on someone else’s story to use it as a pre-emptive strike against the man. It’s not much of a weapon, however, except for the blowback on Poynter. The right thing to do would have been to get in front of the CJR story, let people discuss it, and leave well enough alone with an existing retirement plan in place already. Then Poynter would have retained some measure of respect and good will. Now I am sure many people hope Romanesko takes his audience and Poynter’s advertisers with him.

  • http://www.newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

    His attribution was sloppy, but hardly anyone cares. It’s undoubtedly all about the ad dollars. Poynter really screwed itself by allowing a rift to grow over the years, and finally now by making a pre-emptive strike against an independent Romenesko blog (with advertisers). Moos seized on someone else’s story to use it as a pre-emptive strike against the man. It’s not much of a weapon, however, except for the blowback on Poynter. The right thing to do would have been to get in front of the CJR story, let people discuss it, and leave well enough alone with an existing retirement plan in place already. Then Poynter would have retained some measure of respect and good will. Now I am sure many people hope Romanesko takes his audience and Poynter’s advertisers with him.

  • Anonymous

    This is the most laughable “spin” yet, and I quote from the lede paragraph: “A handful of writers agreed with Poynter Online Director Julie Moos
    that Romenesko had used “questionable attribution” in some of his posts.
    But many defended Romenesko’s practices, and several criticized Moos’
    handling of the situation.”

    “Several” criticized Moos’ handling of the situation? SEVERAL?

    How about the vast majority of everyone posting here and elsewhere.

    Poynter is becoming the joke of the industry. What an incredible travesty.

  • Anonymous

    This is the most laughable “spin” yet, and I quote from the lede paragraph: “A handful of writers agreed with Poynter Online Director Julie Moos
    that Romenesko had used “questionable attribution” in some of his posts.
    But many defended Romenesko’s practices, and several criticized Moos’
    handling of the situation.”

    “Several” criticized Moos’ handling of the situation? SEVERAL?

    How about the vast majority of everyone posting here and elsewhere.

    Poynter is becoming the joke of the industry. What an incredible travesty.

  • http://www.newlocalmedia.com Dan Knauss

    (sorry, double post)

  • http://twitter.com/John_Royal John Royal

    So in the end, a man’s reputation is destroyed because a nobody at CJR and a nobody at Poynter (who as she says, didn’t even actually see a problem) created an issue out of thin air.  The real journalists, who dealt with Romensko himself, saw absolutely nothing wrong.  And in the end, even after Romensko resigns, you continue to drag him through the mud despite his stellar work over the years. 

    It’s easy to understand why ESPN chose Poytner to be its ombudsman. ESPN knew that Poynter would ingore the major issues (Craig James), write hit pieces without giving targets an opportunity to respond (Bruce Feldman), and would essentially hold ESPN blameless for anything (realignment).

    Nice hit job on a good person. I can’t help but wonder what undeserving person you’re going to target next, and I can’t wait to see what issue you create from thin air next.

  • http://twitter.com/strobist David Hobby

    Ahhh, okay. If you think about the hatchet job in the context of Poynter’s worrying Romenesko would walk off with their advertisers, it all makes sense. Thanks much for the clarification.

    I’d move it up in the story a bit. Seems a little self serving to sneak it into the last paragraph. But I would milk this story as much as you can. It will probably be one of the last relevant offerings from Poynter.