By now, you should probably have heard via Twitter about Jim Romenesko leaving Poynter in the aftermath of the disclosure that he sometimes used material from other news sources verbatim without placing that material inside quote marks.
I have linked to Romenesko (an excellent blog on the media) for as long as my blog has existed. Before the blog (in the years BB 2006-2009), I included Romenesko on the “strongly suggested” reading list on the reporting class syllabus. He has always been interesting and authoritative. And, I assumed, beyond reproach.
It’s so easy to forget that all of us, as we employ new ways to communicate via inherently casual and quick social media, are vulnerable to being caught in the crosshairs of new media, old rules. Jim Romenesko thought it was well understood, he says, that anything he wrote about a news organization might well include a sampling of that org’s material: its own words. He had done this for years as he aggregated bits and bites (hyperlinking like crazy) about what was going on out there in news world.
Poynter didn’t fire him. Julie Moos, director of Poynter Online and Poynter Publications, writes that his offer to resign was declined. But he quit anyway. And now Poynter is revising its editorial policy.
Many people have sprung vociferously to his defense (the comments on Moos’s column at the second link are well worth reading). It would appear that many people find Jim Romenesko more valuable than they do Poynter, these days (and I am sure that when he starts his new venture, he will have a loyal audience waiting to read him).
Questions remain for us to ponder: Did Poynter overreact? Do the rules of attribution change with the form of communication?