A Strange, Sad Day in Journalism: Romenesko’s Resignation

Aggregation is an under-appreciated art.  Sure, with a quick tutorial, almost anyone can perform some version of it.  But I have only stumbled across a few individuals and media outlets who have done it really well for any length of time on the web.

Jim Romenesko heavily influenced the practice of online aggregation.  By many accounts, he was one of its inventors and early experimenters.  For more than a decade on his eponymous blog, he aggregated news about the news industry with an astounding rapidity and regularity that made his updates as reliable as the rising of the sun (except, of course, on Saturdays and Sundays). :)

Romenesko spread the word about the big stories quick.  He ferreted out the smaller stories deserving a spotlight.  He maintained a professional, almost invisible, voice, displaying smidgens of snark or righteousness only when he was calling out individuals or organizations who deserved it.  Until recently, when the blog format switched, he gave media-watchers just enough to whet our appetites about an item without drowning us in minutia or holding us up from scrolling down.  And he brought public attention to internal industry decisions and disputes with such frequency that those in power long ago came to accept and expect it.

St. Petersburg Times media critic Eric Deggans confirms, “Romenesko’s site has been a favorite of reporters, editors, administrators and all sorts of folks connected to the media industry, especially in print. For about a dozen years, he’s gathered together the most important news from all corners of the biz to one spot, creating an amazing platform for ideas and gossip that I have benefited from many times over.”

--

A few hours ago, a New York Times Media Decoder post accurately noted that for many of us a spot on his blog was seen as a short-term land-grab of “the best real estate in American journalism.”  I vividly recall the two times I was mentioned by name in separate summaries.  It triggered a torrent of sheer joy that I would describe as Romenesko+.

And yet, now, here we are, minus Romenesko, at least in the role in which we most love and rely on him.  The eye-poppingly stunning manner in which his association at Poynter was severed yesterday is the talk of the journalism cosmos.  His own minders publicly flogged him in a post on his own blog for a practice that some are declaring questionable and others are defending with gusto.

I will leave it to the news media ethics cognoscenti to determine if there has truly been any actual fault in how Romenesko handled portions of the news copy to which he was linking.  I am currently too dazed by this whole “bizarre spat” (as Media Decoder calls it) to really dive in.

As a Pennsylvania native, it has been a weird few days, watching Joe Paterno, a man larger than the institution at which he was employed, be forced out.  The departure has left a strange new reality forced to soldier on in its wake.  As one Penn State University superfan messaged me, “Will Saturdays ever be the same?”

The context surrounding that case and this one are of course monumentally different.  But the similarities in respect to how they have played out are impossible to ignore. Jim Romenesko, a man larger than the institution at which he was employed, has been prominently, suddenly and unceremoniously forced out, leading to raucous showings of support from his fans and a black cloud hanging over Poynter’s future.  Will every day but Saturday and Sunday ever be the same?

Comments are closed.