Jim Romenesko resigns from Poynter over attribution flap

Dylan Stableford
The Cutline

Jim Romenesko--who made a name for himself as the go-to source of aggregated media news for more than a decade--abruptly resigned from the Poynter Institute on Thursday, after the director of the journalism center questioned the way he attributed his blog posts.

"Poynter has accepted my resignation," Romenesko wrote on Twitter. "Thanks to all for the incredible support today."

Romenesko had been planning a "semi-retirement" anyway, but Poynter editor Julie Moos' criticism of his work hastened that exit seven weeks early.

Earlier Thursday, Moos wrote that "Romenesko's posts exhibit a pattern of incomplete attribution." She cited typical examples of Romenesko's summaries, noting that while he always credited the source of the news, he failed to use quotation marks around "verbatim language" from the source material.

"One danger of this practice is that the words may appear to belong to Jim when they in fact belong to another," Moos wrote.

Moos' post sparked a backlash among media bloggers and the Romenesko faithful.

"Unless there are far more egregious examples out there--which I strain to imagine, since the practice and intent of Romenesko's blog is self-evident--this is a nothingburger," Time magazine television critic James Poniewozik wrote in a comment on Moos' post.

Another was not so measured: "Seriously, Poynter? THIS is the issue that you get outraged about? THIS is the issue that leads you to plant your flag on morals, ethics and proper journalistic behavior?"

Romenesko had been at the institute for 12 years; Poynter scooped up the then-Pioneer Press reporter and his fledgling but influential site, Mediagossip.com, in 1999.

Romenesko told the New York Times on Thursday that Moos' criticism threw him "for a loop," but declined further comment.

"I'm relieved that many readers and sources understood Jim's intent to credit properly and felt fairly treated by him," Moos wrote after accepting Romenesko's resignation. "This was not the transition Jim and I planned during our talks this summer, and it's not the end I wanted. [...] The abrupt conclusion of Jim's tenure with Poynter should not overshadow his unmatched contributions; he changed Poynter, he changed journalism and he changed newsrooms."

The original plan had been for Romenesko--who is launching his own website--to contribute to Poynter after his departure, though that would seem unlikely now.

"We will change the blog's name in the coming days," Moos wrote, "but Romenesko will remain an important part of Poynter's legacy, one we value."

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