By: Joe Strupp
Fans of the Poynter Institute’s popular MediaNews Web page run by editor Jim Romenesko may have noticed a significant change in the site’s presentation on Thursday, courtesy of publisher William Dean Singleton.
“My general view is they stole our name,” Singleton told E&P. “It has been trademarked for years and they stole it. We had had some people comment to us as if it were ours and it was confusing.”
Attorneys for Singleton, vice chairman and CEO of MediaNews Group Inc., had complained that the Poynter site’s use of the name MediaNews to head Romenesko page’s constituted a trademark infringement. In several letters to Poynter, Singleton’s lawyers asked that the use of the name be stopped, citing case law and claiming that Poynter’s actions “dilute the distinctive value of the MediaNews Group mark.”
Romenesko’s Web log has earned great popularity among news and media professionals for its expansive links to Web stories spanning all variety of media, making it a daily must-read for thousands of journalism types.
After several letters between lawyers on both sides, including one to Poynter that suggested they simply place a space between “Media” and “News,” Romenesko agreed to remove “MediaNews” from the daily feature’s name. Thursday, it was changed to the eponymous “Romenesko.”
Romenesko told E&P: “I’m not crying over the loss of the ‘MediaNews’ name. According to the e-mails I’m getting, most people were calling the site ‘Romenesko’ anyway.”
In a letter posted on Poynter.org, Poynter President James Naughton wrote: “The gist of the law firm’s concern seems to be that eliminating the space between the words ‘Media’ and ‘News’ might prompt the unsophisticated, raffish crowd who tune in to Poynter Online to think it was Dean Singleton in his pajamas pecking away at the keyboard in Romenesko’s Evanston apartment.”
Singleton, who said he had not been involved directly in the legal back-and-forth, said he was glad the issue had been resolved. “It’s nothing we were terribly upset about,” he said. “But it is something we needed to clear up.”
Singleton said he planned to visit Poynter during a swing through Florida next week. When told of Naughton’s letter announcing the change, he chuckled, adding: “I’ll be sure to give him a hug when I see him.”