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November 14, 2011

Poynter's Romenesko Resigns On Heels Of Coverage Controversies: Editor Questioned Journalism Blogger's Methods — Although, Romenesko's Plans To Launch His Own Competing Site May Be a Factor In Public Discrediting

After his editor posted a column questioning his journalistic standards, Poynter's pioneering media blogger Jim Romenesko has resigned from his job. The author of the morning go-to blog for thousands of journalists and communications pros quit Thursday after his editor Julie Moos publicly questioned whether he was giving proper attribution to the news sources mentioned in his daily posts. In her column Thursday, Moos criticized Romenesko for not properly disclosing in his synopses that he was using the same language used by the source reporters in the original articles he was citing. "Though information sources have always been displayed prominently in Jim's posts and are always linked at least once (often multiple times), too many of those posts also included the original author's verbatim language without containing his or her words in quotation marks, as they should have," Moos wrote in the critical column. Journalists, ironically, reacted rather negatively to the column, according to the post's comments — the same journalists allegedly victimized by Romenesko's practice, according to Moos. The majority of commenters suggested that the blogger's method was clear and transparent — that his descriptions of his coverage often came directly from the source materials. Although his contract with Poynter comes up in just six weeks, Romenesko said that he "thought it was best to leave Poynter after these 'imperfect attribution' charges were leveled against me. My heart was no longer in the job," he said, the Washington Post reports. But there's certainly more to this story — coincidentally, Romenesko has plans to start a new site, JimRomenesko.com, next month, which would compete directly with Poynter, especially when it comes to journalism-related advertising. "I wondered if they were trying to discredit me so advertisers wouldn't touch me," Romenesko said in an email to the Post. "I have no evidence, though, that that was their motivation," he clarified, according to the Post report.

Since starting his blog in 1999, Romenesko has put together a comprehensive list of articles about newspapers, TV news, news websites and media personalities, as well as broader journalism issues. His method has historically been to create a synopsis of each story with a headline that linked to the original source material. Poynter first raised its concerns last week after the Columbia Journalism Review questioned Moos about Romenesko's blog for an article. Although some traditional journalists believe that bloggers should never use another writer's words without clearly using quotation marks, none had not publicly complained about the manner in which Romenesko cited their work in his blog, the Post reports.

In an email to the Post, Moos said she did speak with Romenesko about the advertising issue before his resignation, but that any conflict had been "resolved" before he resigned. She made no mention of those advertising issues in her column, and said Poynter won't place any restrictions on Romenesko as he seeks advertising for his new site, reports Post writer Paul Farhi.

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