The Romenesko Empire

Howell Raines –

An excerpt from an amusing and insightful piece about “Romenesko” by Howell Raines:
… It’s true that the late Gerald Boyd and I, then the top two editors at the Times, were among the first to get Romenesko’d out of our jobs. According to Roy Peter Clark, the senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, the verb form of ­Romenesko’s name quickly established itself as journalistic shorthand for getting zapped, often fatally, by unflattering publicity. I never really blamed the messenger. Since then, however, hard times have hit the newspaper business, and today, many editors are doing just that, grousing that Romenesko’s blog at feeds gloom and doom in the nation’s newsrooms with its instantaneous reporting of layoffs, declining ad revenues, and fire-sale prices being paid for metropolitan dailies.
Romenesko himself sees the irony. With typical Midwestern modesty, he says he didn’t set out to create a media-economics monitoring service but rather a national “community of journalists” for “people like me who are obsessed with newspapers.” That his site has become a high-tech tom-tom for angst-ridden members of a dying tribe was merely a side effect. In a sense, Romenesko is both the medium and the message. Newspaper publishers assumed that even if the printing press disappeared, the internet would still have an insatiable need for their basic product—verified facts, hierarchically arranged by importance. But Romenesko’s rapid growth showed that even newsrooms are part of the emerging market for an unprocessed sprawl of information, delivered immediately and with as few filters as possible between the fingertips of one laptop user and the eyeballs of another. In short, it’s not technology per se that’s killing newspapers; it’s plummeting demand for quality information.
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