In an odd list of events, Jim Romensko, the famed aggregator for the Poynter site, retired early this morning after accusations arose that his posts contained verbatim sentences from the sources he attributed. An article on the site details the unfolding of events. The allegations arose after Julie Moos, the Poynter Online Director was contacted by Erika Fry, an assistant editor at the CJR, found many similarities in his posts and original works when she was doing research for an upcoming piece.
The article by Moos on November 10th stated that Fry noticed that most of Romensko’s attributions were correct but that most of the “writing” included lines lifted directly from the sources’ site.
Romenesko planned on a “semi-retiring” in a 7 weeks which would allow him to “casually” blog on the Poynter site. This would allow him to focus on his own site, JimRomenesko.com. He was quoted saying that his heart wasn’t in blogging on the Poynter site anymore and later resigned on November 10th.
This has sparked debate between journalism experts and ethics enforcers, who feel that an attribution from Romenesko is an honor. Some feel that as an aggregator, he’s exempt from actually writing his own material. While others stated that he shoud follow the same rules as anyone else in the journalism field.
In the post by Moos she states that she classified Romenesko’s blog an “over aggregated” in that it used too much original work from the source in the collated material on Romenesko+.
According to Moos original post about the Romenesko allegations, she clarified that this had been happening since 2005.
So why did it take so long for it to be questioned?
David Carr, writer at the NYT, wrote in his blog that it seemed as if Moos’ explanation was a “an answer in search of a question,” accusing her of not fully justifying her reasons for the claims and that no outstanding complaints about his blogs were ever made.
Carr even describes being picked up by Romenesko as:
Romo-ed, which is the verb some people used to describe getting picked up in his blog, it was always for good reason, but not always for the reason I thought. He had a maddening knack for reaching deep into a story, past all the silky language and throat clearing, and pulling out the essence of what I was trying to say in the first place. I sort of hated him for that.
This issue raises questions about the thin line between journalism and its ethics. As a journalism student we are incessantly told to place any info used are to be placed in quotes and to make sure any words that aren’t our own are correctly attributed.
But his blog was a different type of journalism. It shouldn’t have to follow the same guidelines that journalists writing for a non-aggregating site do.
Romenesko’s blog was solely for collating information about news concerning the journalism industry and attributing so that readers are able to arrive at their own conclusions; not the aggregator making it for them.
Before having to follow journalism blogs for our class, I knew of the Romenesko+. I remember reading a post, on one of the many PR blogs I follow, that listed 10 things journalism students should know. One of the top things was that “every journalism student should know Romenesko.” After following his blog I learned the correct way to attribute. Also that it is important as a blogger to present facts first, opinions later.
The fact that his name has been a staple in the journalism industry as a creditited aggregator it is shocking that people he has been serving for 12 years on the Poynter site are questioning his accreditation.
I think it’s smart for him to leave his position at Poynter but beeing associated for so long is a hard thing to shake. Everyone associates Romenesko with Poynter and it will be difficult to distinguish the two. I’m not sure what will become of Romenesko after this but I’m sure his loyal following will continue to support him at his new site.
As online director, Moos’ jump to accuse Romenesko of plagiarizing shows her inability to protect the work going up on the site. You mean to tell me it took 6 years for her to speak about it, if it even was a problem in her eyes, to actually say something? Yeah, I’m not so sure I fancy her judgement too well.
Moos blindsided Romenesko in a “Kim Kardashian-esque” manner. She should have taken a while longer to gather all the facts and discuss the matter with Romenesko himself. There just isn’t much evidence of there Ben being a between her and Romenesko other than the terms of his resignation. She should have been more inept to consult with him before jumping to the blogs and writing about it.
I’m not sure what will happen to Romenesko after this but I hope Periodismo is around long enough for me to blog about it.
food for thought journos.