The Boston Phoenix
September 9 - 16, 1999



The death -- and rebirth? -- of

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,, 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, 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 (, will continue. But for the 6000 or so readers who depend on for their daily media fix, their only hope is that the site Romenesko is putting together for Poynter will be a worthy successor.

"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, 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 family.

His Poynter site -- as yet unnamed, and scheduled to launch on November 1 -- will supplement the formula with journalism resources and related links, and original reporting by Romenesko and others.

The hope is that the site will be just like only better. The danger is that, as is all too often the case, more will prove to be less.

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