Romenesko Sits for Rare Portrait — In a Student Magazine

By: Greg Mitchell

Anyone in the know knows that the master of the links today is not Tiger Woods but Jim Romenesko. But Romenesko, the longtime aggregator now at www.poynter.org, has very rarely sat for a substantial interview, let alone a series of photographs.

This has suddenly changed, thanks to an unlikely source ? a magazine put together and published by students at Northwestern?s Medill School of Journalism, called Hyperlink. For many years, students there have been assigned to create and publish a start-up, and Hyperlink, a 50-page glossy on ?online media,? is the 51st in this long line.

Romenesko, 53, who lives nearby in Evanston, was a natural for the issue, but he has spurned most requests for interviews and photos in the past. Naturally, he is pictured near, or leaning over, his silver Mac laptop, with a jukebox in the background, suggesting he is at a coffee bar.

After a mini-bio of Romenesko (at least related to his online years), the Q & A provides an up-close look at how he delivers his popular and influential links, as well as memos and letters, at his Poynter site, now known simply as Romenesko after years as Media Gossip and then Media News.

Here we learn:

–He starts work at 5:30 A.M. Chicago time, consulting some of his 150 or more bookmarks. After awhile, he says, ?I try to get out of the apartment and go to Starbucks,” to use its wireless link. Occasionally he takes the Metra downtown and works on Michigan avenue. “It?s a pretty flexible schedule,” he reports, “and on any given day I?ll move to five to seven work spots. I don?t want to overstay my welcome at any given place.”

On Friday aftgernoons, he drives up to Wisconsin to visit friends, and hits, he says, ?every Starbucks along the way.?

–Asked to explain the success of his site, he attributes it mainly to updating throughout the day (unlike certain competitors) and the letters. He prefers letters to blog-like comments ?because most comments that I see on sites are lame.?

–In an interesting inside look, Romenesko explains that when he first started posting internal memos from newspaper editors and publishers, it caused a ?huge stink? among members of the Poynter advisory board, many of whom are still-active newspaper execs. Apparently they complained that they could no longer send a sensitive memo to staff without it showing up on Romenesko. But Poynter stood behind Romenesko and, he reveals, ?it?s come to the point now where editors themselves are sending me the memos.?

–Romenesko offers a ringing defense of hardworking mainstream journalists, who are the true watchdogs, although he says bloggers ?complement what journalists do.? At his own site, he realizes the linked stories can often seem overly negative so he tries hard to step back and ?celebrate good work.?

–As for his critics, he notes that some conservative Web sites think he is a liberal and liberal sites don?t think he is liberal enough. ?If truth be known,? he advises, ?I hate politics.?


***

The Web site of the magazine does not include a transcript from the conversation, but click here for an short intro to the article where you can listen to an audio clip of the interview.

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