Did Romenesko plagiarize, or is Poynter in the wrong?

A name synonymous with all things journalism, Jim Romenesko, has resigned after 12 years at the Poynter Institute.

Romanesko’s departure comes after questions were raised about his use of quotation marks when summarizing articles in his daily round-up of media stories. Poynter Online Director Julie Moos wrote that he displayed “a pattern of incomplete attribution” in his posts. Not fully quoting the words of others “is incomplete and inconsistent with our publishing practices and standards,” she wrote.

Some say Poynter was correct in its move to cite the missing quotation marks as plagiarism. Others are insisting Poynter is the guilty party, pointing out that Romenesko’s blog is the main reason for Poynter Online’s success, and that the site is trying to make Romenesko look bad just as he was scheduled to depart to launch a competing product.

What it comes down to, The New York Times’s Jeremy Peters noted, was that Poynter, “an organization that teaches journalistic ethics and practices, had scolded its most famous writer for a technical infraction of its guidelines.” The result of which was Poynter being accused of “being school-marmish and petty, and for tarnishing the name of a man who is deeply admired by his colleagues.”

“FWIW, as someone who Romenesko has linked various times, I have never given, nor could I imagine giving, a crap about this practice. Even in the supposedly damning example cited above [this comment appeared below Poynter’s post on the story], the bulk of the quoted material appears in quotes. The bolded phrases not in quotes are, to be charitable, boilerplate. Unless there are far more egregious examples out there–which I strain to imagine, since the practice and intent of Romenesko’s blog is self-evident–this is a nothingburger,” TIME columnist James Poniewozik commented.

Romenesko had offered his resignation twice before, but Poynter had refused to accept it, he said, according to The Times. He had planned on going part-time at Poynter and starting his own website in just a couple of months.

His new site will continue covering media news, but will also discuss “other things I’m interested in.”

This entry was posted in Journalism, Poynter, Romenesko. Bookmark the permalink.

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