Romenesko in Tight Spot Over Aggregation

Failed to attribute to original sources

Influential journalist Jim Romenesko, who runs the Romenesko media news blog on the Poynter Institute’s website, has offered, unsuccessfully, to resign after the lack of proper attribution in his aggregated posts was brought to light.

“ works hard to meet the highest standards of journalism excellence, and I learned late Wednesday that we have not consistently met those standards,” Poynter Online director Julie Moos explained on the site. “Thanks to the sharp eye of Erika Fry, an assistant editor at the Columbia Journalism Review, I now know that Jim Romenesko’s posts exhibit a pattern of incomplete attribution.”

According to Moos, many of Romenesko’s aggregated posts—stretching back to 2005—use phrases that clearly replicate the language used by the source author and don’t contain quotation marks to denote that fact. (In one example given by Moos of a story aggregated from the Chicago Tribune, most of the nonquoted language is still exactly the same as the original.)

Romenesko, who has announced that he’s planning to “semi-retire” at the end of the year, offered to resign, but Moos refused to accept his resignation.

What’s surprising is that no one—including the original authors themselves, who often send Romensko material for aggregation—has pointed this out before. Romenesko is Poynter’s only author whose posts are not edited prior to being published. 

From now on, Moos said, Romenesko’s work will indeed be edited before being posted online and will follow Poynter’s attribution standards.


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