The death -- and rebirth? -- of MediaGossip.com
by Dan Kennedy
So this is what they mean by Internet time.
This past May, Jim Romenesko, who for the past decade has published a 'zine
about fanzines and news of the weird both in print and on the Web, decided to
reorganize his burgeoning section of media news. Upon learning that his
preferred domain name, MediaNews.com, had already been taken, he settled for
The site consisted of Romenesko's celebrity-heavy round-up of the day's top
media news, supplemented by links to a variety of media-related publications
and commentators. And it was an immediate hit. Yahoo made it a "Site of the
Day." The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA
Today, NPR, Salon, the American Journalism Review, and
Brill's Content have all had nice things to say about it.
Now it's over.
At the end of October, Romenesko will turn off the lights at MediaGossip.com,
and will direct readers to the Web site of the Poynter Institute, where he's
starting a new job. His original site, the Obscure Store and Reading Room
(http://www.obscurestore.com), will continue. But for the 6000 or so readers
who depend on MediaGossip.com for their daily media fix, their only hope is
that the site Romenesko is putting together for Poynter will be a worthy
"People are afraid it's going to turn academic. I don't believe it will. They
came to me, they know what I'm all about, they know my style, and they said,
`Welcome,' " says Romenesko, speaking on his cell phone from a Seattle's
Best Coffee in Chicago. (How Net is that?)
The not-so-secret reason for Romenesko's success is the media's incredible
self-absorption. I confess to having been immediately hooked after I saw that
he'd included me in his list of media columnists, right between the Boston
Globe's Mark Jurkowitz and the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz. I
also plead guilty to sending Romenesko e-mails
urging him to hype my stuff -- behavior that apparently is pretty widespread.
James Poniewozik, in his Salon interview with Romenesko, quipped, "You
could call this column a shameless plea for James Romenesko's attention."
The move to Poynter should certainly improve Romenesko's personal life. Since
May, he's been getting up at 5 a.m. to gather stuff for MediaGossip.com,
putting it together on the fly, and then hurrying off to his day job at the
St. Paul Pioneer Press. Now his avocation will be his day job.
"The nice thing about this is that I can work all day and night on it,"
Romenesko says. "It was always such a race against time to put together new
pages every morning."
Romenesko was approached by Poynter after the Times article appeared,
on August 2. His principal condition, he says, was that he not be required
to move to the institute's headquarters, in St. Petersburg, Florida. Instead,
he's moved from St. Paul to Chicago, a "great news city" that's also closer to
His Poynter site -- as yet unnamed, and scheduled to launch on
November 1 -- will supplement the MediaGossip.com formula with journalism
resources and related links, and original reporting by Romenesko and others.
The hope is that the site will be just like MediaGossip.com only better. The
danger is that, as is all too often the case, more will prove to be less.