Journalism industry icon Jim Romenesko resigned last night, premature of his planned early retirement, following allegations by the Poynter Institute of “questionable attribution” in his posts. Romenesko, considered by some to be the godfather of the aggregator, has run a media news blog at Poynter for the past 12 years. Questions about his writing appear to have been raised by Erika Fry, an assistant editor at the Columbia Journalism Review.
Julie Moos, who is the director of Poynter Online, wrote the posts about the “incomplete” attribution and Romenesko’s resignation. She has also received a large amount of criticism in this situation. Read her original post here to see examples and make your own opinion on the issue.
While there is plenty to be looked at and discussed here, we were drawn in by a Twitter request from Anne Elizabeth Moore: “I’d also like to see a gender breakdown of Romenesko links, Romenesko defenders, and @juliemmoos twitter-detractors. @GenderReport?”
Here’s where it got interesting on our part. While a gender breakdown of all of those subjects would be challenging, time-consuming and perhaps a project we’ll set aside to do more on later, we did pull a few small samples of the conversation to look at.
These were the early posts about the issue that appeared through a Google news search and that were being passed around on Twitter prior to the announcement of Romenesko’s resignation (after that and as of this morning, you’ll find more than 100). Notice anything about the majority of the authors?
- Poynter Editor: Jim Romenesko’s Posts Have “Incomplete Attribution” But Aren’t Plagiarism – 10,000 Words (by Elana Zak)
- The Preposterous Plagiarism Assault on Romenesko – Gawker (by Hamilton Nolan)
- The Intolerable Evolution of Poynter’s “Romenesko+” – The Awl (by Choire Sicha)
- No Way to Treat a Romenesko – American Journalism Review (by Rem Rieder)
- Journalism Ethics Taken Too Seriously? Romenesko Scolded on His Own Blog – New York Times Media Decoder (by Jeremy Peters)
- Bloggers attack Poynter for trying to ensure Romenesko media news site gives proper credit – Tampabay.com: The Feed (by Eric Deggans)
- In Defense of Jim Romenesko – Recovering Journalist (by Mark Potts)
- Over-aggregation, Under-attribution, and Poynter – Columbia Journalism Review (by Clint Hendler)
- Media Critics Rush to Defend Jim Romenesko’s Right to Quote – The Atlantic Wire (by Adam Clark Estes)
- Romenesko in Tight Spot Over Aggregation – AdWeek (by Emma Bazilian)
- Jim Romenesko’s resignation, and a scooped reporter – Washington Post (by Erik Wemple)
- Here’s my I’m so angry at Julie Moos’s… – Felix (Tumblr account by Felix Salmon)
And then where are a few “stories” via Storify that collected what the authors suggest are key tweets on the issue. Notice anything here?
- The Kneejerk (by Adam Clark Estes) – 6 tweets from males, 0 from females
- Romenesko Quotemarkgate (by Luke Morris) – 26 tweets from males (some authors repeated), 1 from female, 1 from org/group
- Reactions to Jim Romenesko “incomplete attribution” story (by Rachel Kaufman) – 8 tweets from males (some authors repeated), 1 from female
Moos herself retweeted (or MT-ed) nearly 100 tweets about the issue as of the end of the business day Thursday, including comments on all sides. These included by rough count 73 tweets from men, 14 from women and six from organizations or groups (some tweet authors, both male and female, were repeated). You’ll find similar results if you look at the comment sections of both of her posts on the issues. Just scroll down through the comments.
Media columnist Jack Shafer asked on Twitter whether all the press critics would be standing up for Romenesko and then proceeded to list 20 of them. By my count, none are female.
And in a wrap up of the discussion and response posted on Romenesko+ on Poynter today by Adam Hochberg, the trend continues. If we don’t include the key players (Moos, Romenesko and Fry) in our count, those who are named as expressing an opinion on the matter are eight men and no women.
While we haven’t completed Moore’s request fully, our quest to look at gender in this conversation did raise some questions.
Where are the women commenting on this issue? If you do a Twitter search for Romenesko, you’ll find some women tweeting about it (and obviously a few women scattered throughout in the above small samples), but in terms of the bulk of the early conversation, it is made to appear, based on all of the above, mostly male dominated.
And where are the women press critics? Is this still a very male dominated position? From Shafer’s collection, it appears so.
These are questions we don’t have answers for, but we’re interested in your thoughts. Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
UPDATE: This post received quite a bit of traffic Friday as the journalism world reacted to Romenesko’s resignation. Here are a few snapshots of responses to our post on Twitter:
Additionally, media writer Rachel Sklar asked Shafer how he defined press critic for his list that included only men. This was his response:
To which media writer Alicia Shepard said, “HELLO???,” noting that she probably tweeted more about Romenesko than she had tweeted in weeks. Also, in response to the exchange, Clara Jeffery, editor of Mother Jones, posted:
Sklar and others suggested a need to begin work on a lady journo list. We’re glad our post helped spark this discussion and we look forward to seeing the list emerge.