My Advice for Poynter: 10 Steps to Succeed with a Post-Romenesko Media Blog

As I write in my new PBS MediaShift post, the Romenesko-Poynter split remains the talk of the journalism cosmos.  I am a longtime Romenesko reader now strongly considering switching full-time to Mediagazer.  Simply in case it might be of interest to a Poynter faculty crew I sincerely admire, here are the steps I suggest taking to succeed with a post-Romenesko media blog– specifically to keep readers like me who love journalism and enjoy a daily “insiderish media” fix.

Step 1) Write a well-deserved tribute for the man who put you on the online map.  The relationship didn’t end well, but you had a great run together and he deserves a proper goodbye and an honest assessment of everything he did for Poynter’s reputation.

Step 2) Julie Moos needs to publicly respond to the whole shebang.  She is noticeably missing from the interesting responses provided by other Poynter-ites on Friday.  Transparency and trust seem to be two of the institute’s principal tenets.  A statement from her that reads as human instead of canned will go a long way toward getting Poynter past this situation.

Step 3) Avoid a cheesy, overly-PC name for the new blog.  The best blog titles have a little bit of edge to them.  You need a new brand that will roll off people’s lips and enter their heads when they’re browsing.

Step 4) DON’T replace Romenesko with one person right away.  Stick with a quiet mix of people until a workhorse emerges or a qualified fresh face catches your attention from the outside.  Consider poaching someone with an indy blog!  If I was hiring a blogger in 2011, I would not give a second look to anyone who hasn’t been blogging reliably and excitingly for at least a year.

Step 5) SHORTEN THE POSTS.  The recent switch to the long-ish post format has been like a slow exhale.  The best part of old-format Romenesko: You didn’t read it. You scrolled and scanned it, constantly, scrolling and scanning.

Step 6) MAKE THE EXTERNAL LINKS MUCH CLEARER.  This is something Erika Fry rightly noted in her now-historic CJR write-up.  It’s been annoying me for months.  Don’t let web traffic drive your thinking.  The many, many, many loyal Romenesko readers greatly enjoyed clicking on a story he teased, then coming back, clicking on another site, and once again returning.  Nowadays, it feels like a con-game, involving multiple clicks to read a single teaser and a narrow-eyed search to find the correct external link.  Fix this NOW.

Step 7) Begin updating on evenings and weekends.  You have a team, it seems.  No reason someone can’t take a night shift or post occasionally on weekends.  You are going to have to work harder to maintain readers.  Fresh content at all hours would be a good start.

Step 8) Add back your mega-huge bloggers list.  It was part of the old site.  I always enjoyed it.  Bloggers will appreciate the inclusion.  In a related sense, open up the cited sources list.  Independent bloggers and informal media outlets do provide major scoops and insightful analysis.  The blog could use a fresh set of voices to complement the set of industry pubs and people that have held steady now for years.

Step 9) Lay off the gotcha journalism for awhile.  The posts attacking those in the industry for strange work practices are typically fantastic, but they will send the wrong message right now and likely appear tone-deaf considering Poynter itself seems to have screwed up so massively.  (I’m not talking about the regular posts pointing out grievous errors.  I’m talking about the small-time quirky stuff that leads Romenesko to email someone for a response.  It’ll seem petty at the moment.)

Step 10) Interact with Romenesko in the future.  In six months or a year or even when Romenesko launches his new site, have Mallary Jean Tenore or another of your stronger writers do a piece on him or conduct a Q&A.  He seems like a reasonable guy who will probably be up for it.  And it will help heal this whole fissure– literally and in the eyes of readers– and enable everyone to move on.

Best of luck.

One Response to “My Advice for Poynter: 10 Steps to Succeed with a Post-Romenesko Media Blog”
  1. Karen Dunlap says:

    Good thoughts, Dan.
    Thanks for thinking of us (Poynter).