The Breakup, Part Two: Who Covers The Media Beat Better?

In the second part of our look at Poynter in the post-Romenesko era and in the post-Poynter era, we chose a random week to read both and Poynter’s MediaWire thoroughly. Though both Romenesko and Mediawire writer Andrew Beaujon (plus the rest of the MediaWire team) covered a lot of the same stories, there were significant differences in how and when.

Monday, June 18:

Mediawire’s first post went up at 7:18 a.m., but in fairness, it was a link to a story posted on CNN the previous Friday.

Romenesko’s first post of the week was up at 10:22 A.M. the day before–the Times-Picayune internal memo saying that the new company’s jobs were online. The memo was timestamped 7:40 a.m. (presumably CDT). Point: Romenesko.

However, as of 10 a.m. Monday, Mediawire had added four more posts (including the same Times-Picayune memo), and Jim had added two–and one was just a funny screengrab of a misspelling in a TV subtitle.

By the end of the day (EDT), Mediawire had 11 total posts, while Romenesko had nine. Three were about typos or other unfortunate “oops” journalism moments. One was a cute piece sent in by a tipster about how a newspaper ad guy used the paper to propose. And the “Morning Report” and “Afternoon Report” together make up 14 links to newsy important information.

Mediawire aggregated/linked to a number of things. As far as we could tell, only one piece included original reported material, but at least two of Mediawire’s aggregations were quite excellent–this analysis by Andrew Beaujon that ties together Rodney King’s death and ‘citizen journalist’ James O’Keefe’s comments on a recent panel and this story, drawing on no fewer than six sources to describe layoffs at Australian newspapers. Point: Poynter.

Tuesday, June 19:
Mediawire’s first post up is at 8:43 EST. It’s a story about a study that found the Wall Street Journal used the phrase “job killer” three times more often than the New York Times. The Huffington Post had this same story last Thursday.

Jim’s first post, a bunch of links, is up at 7:47 CDT. But his next post is the story that blew the Jonah Lehrer “scandal” open–the initial report that showed that Lehrer, new to the New Yorker, had recycled old material for a column. This is the story that will dominate most of the media news cycle this week (for better or worse).
Beyond that story, Jim also posted an apparent exclusive about a promotion at the New York Times and three fluffy items.

On Mediawire, the staff added four more items, all aggregated, including the Jonah Lehrer story (five hours after Romenesko had it). There is a nice, longish, skillfully aggregated analysis of the Watergate mythology pegged to the 40-year anniversary of the story breaking.

Point very much goes to Romenesko.

Wednesday, June 20:
Mediawire leads with an exclusive about Matt Groening retiring Life in Hell, not the most earthshattering news but a big blow, as you’d imagine, to Groening’s fans. Andrew Beaujon follows with a thoughtful piece about the Jonah Lehrer fallout, and then there’s an exclusive about layoffs at In fact, Mediawire is on it with the original content today as the blog then posts an item about NABJ choosing not to rejoin UNITY and an analysis of the layoffs at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and how they disproportionately affect blacks. Throw in a few aggregatey items and you have a total of 9 items for the day.

On Romenesko, Jim writes a similar Jonah Lehrer analysis and follows it with another (an excerpt from a review of a book by Lehrer, which raised questions about his reporting back in 2009). It’s the same book review Poynter had linked to earlier, but Romenesko chooses his excerpt for more meat, which is valuable.

There’s then a piece about a scoop by a college reporter, a short piece about how much Playboy model and anti-science “activist” Jenny McCarthy makes for her writing ($2 a word!), and some more assorted short items to finish up the day. Hard to declare a winner here: Romenesko wins for quantity but Mediawire may have succeeded with quality.

Thursday, June 21:
Mediawire leads at 7am EST with a press release about a company Poynter purchased, and puts up an aggregation of a “future of news” story ten minutes later (yawn, yawn). The first interesting piece comes at 8:53 a.m., and is Alec Baldwin’s defense for why he punched a photographer.

The best piece of the day is Andrew Beaujon’s story about how an AP reporter was duped by a source.

Meanwhile, Romenesko leads with a story about Ann Curry (it was announced on Brian Stelter’s blog the night before that NBC wants to replace her). It would be great if this stemmed the Jonah Lehrer tide, but it doesn’t, as the day brings two new Lehrer-related posts, but also a bunch of Ann Curry news. These are incremental advances, perfect for the blogging format, and while we personally may roll our eyes at seeing the same story repeated over and over again with just the smallest amount of added detail or context, this is what blogging is for. The item we don’t understand is the one about an editor at some website telling her site’s writers in a memo to click on ads, because “our advertisers are the reason we all have paychecks each month.” This would be a big deal if anyone had heard of the site, but as nobody has, the piece falls flat.

Friday, June 22:
Romenesko leads with a news item (via Politico) that a Politico reporter has been suspended over remarks he made over Mitt Romney. He then posted an exclusive about a reporter leaving the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an analysis of Michael Calderone’s Huffington Magazine piece about Politico, some news items (Warren Buffett announced he was buying the Waco Tribune-Herald, for one), and finally a somewhat meta item about how the New York Daily News sent him a cease & desist letter for using their picture of Alec Baldwin punching the NY Daily News photographer.

Mediawire’s first post is an interesting aggregated piece about a newspaper that photoshopped a local political figure’s head into a “target practice” cover, and then the same item about Joe Williams, the Politico reporter. The blog also has two separate posts during the day about Aaron Sorkin’s “Newsroom” and a few of the same newsy stories as Romenesko, including the same story about Warren Buffet buying the Waco Tribune-Herald. Mediawire’s post went up way after Romenesko’s, and it’s slightly better, but not so much better that the delay feels worth it. Around 2pm, Andrew Beaujon put up a piece about Calderone’s Politico piece. Since it didn’t go up until 2, Beaujon aggregates the aggregators–looking at what all the other bloggers reading this piece decided to say. Finally, the week closes with an interview with Edward Champion, whose blog post about Jonah Lehrer’s self-recycling was the “Starr report of the Lehrer affair” (we never thought we’d say those words).

Come back Friday for part three: our final analysis.