One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had with Jim Romenesko lately was about how this news would break.
What we’ve learned from several redesigns and years of media interest is that, inevitably, information about Romenesko — the man and his blog — will be closely analyzed, hotly debated and open to interpretation. I expect this news will be no different.
A few weeks ago, I accepted Jim’s decision to enter into what he called “my version of retirement,” during which he will remain a part of Poynter’s staff covering media and technology, but in a reduced role. This change will give him more time to devote to his life and to his other projects, including jimromenesko.com, to be officially launched in January 2012.
What’s the story?
Earlier this year, Jim told me he wanted to work less. So I listened. I asked questions. Then I considered and suggested options that would offer Jim more flexibility while still serving the needs of hundreds of thousands of people a month who count on his blog for news.
What will Jim do?
Starting January 2, 2012, Jim will become a part-time Poynter employee. He’ll post “casually” to his namesake blog on Poynter.org. We expect that’ll mean a few items a day; but however few or many he posts on media and technology, you can find them in the usual place, on this blog.
Twitter has become an increasingly important tool for Jim and for Poynter. Between his approximately 33,000 followers and Poynter’s approximately 33,000 followers, there are about 58,000 unduplicated users receiving our updates on Twitter. So Jim will continue to tweet frequently about media and tech from the @romenesko account and from the @poynter account. Those tweets often offer information we don’t publish on the website, as well as links to news we publish. And we will continue to tweet all Poynter news and How To’s from @poynter.
What will Poynter do?
Poynter.org’s purpose remains the same: we provide information and tools to produce excellent journalism that advances democracy. That’s what we’ll continue to do.
Just last week, a survey of business journalists found Poynter.org and Romenesko a top source of media industry news. Poynter.org often appears at or near the top of the Mediagazer leaderboard. And there’s anecdotal and quantitative evidence that we’re attracting new audiences in new ways, surprising and exciting people about journalism’s future.
We will continue to publish media news in the Romenesko blog (now renamed Romenesko+), with posts by Jim. Steve Myers will continue to contribute to the blog, as will Jeff Sonderman and I. And we will be hiring a media reporter who has a unique sensibility, an interest in setting the day’s agenda and a commitment to collaboration. If you’re interested, send me an email. But don’t call yourself “the next Romenesko.”
When will I notice a change?
Astute readers have already noticed a change, which started while Jim took vacation during Pulitzer week last April. At the end of that week, I asked Jim how he thought we did in his absence. He replied:
I thought the page looked very good with an excellent mix of items that were widely retweeted and drove traffic … I think we benefit from having different voices, posting styles and news judgments on the Romenesko page and I hope we continue with the group blog concept.
And so we did.
That same day, Jim told Joe Pompeo he was eager to return to his roots. “After aggregating for a dozen years, I decided to shift gears a bit and do some reporting too. It’s a good change of pace.”
And so it was. Steve, Jeff and I picked up some of the aggregation, which allows us to provide the media news people expect — in the blog they’ve counted on to provide it — while Jim could do more reporting. Since then, our audience has continued to grow, and the sharing of our stories has increased.
During a second vacation (this one in mid-July), Jim mulled the future. And when he returned, we began talks in earnest about what he hoped to do next. At the same time, he went from posting about 10-12 items a day to posting 4-6 items a day, with other Poynter staff picking up additional posts, either suggested by Jim or drawn from our own sources.
In short, if you haven’t noticed the change already, you may not notice it in January when Jim’s new status begins.
But I *need* Romenesko…
You’ll still get Romenesko the blog, with contributions by Romenesko the person. And those people who want Jim’s posts and only Jim’s posts about media will be able to get them on his site, JimRomenesko.com, starting in January 2012, along with other items that interest him.
In 2005, Jim explained to Slate’s Jack Shafer why he started Mediagossip.com:
“My goal was to … share with other news junkies stories that interested me. Of course, the site has expanded beyond that—with letters and memos—but I’m still mostly interested in finding and linking to pieces that people probably wouldn’t find on their own. … To be honest, I didn’t say to myself, ‘Dammit, I’m going to improve journalism with this thing!’ when I started doing this.”
But he has improved journalism, and that work continues.