Jim Romenesko: More Companies Will Start Hiring Bloggers
Smart firms will experiment with blogs on their intranets, predicts the man behind the must-read journalism blog
By Jeni Bauser
Jim Romenesko is a quirky man. Yes, his well-known blog, Romenesko, a selection of media stories from around the Internet, is a favorite bookmark among journalists everywhere.
But behind the popular journalism blog is a quiet individual who appears to prefer to stay out of the limelight—and who has been able to garner a great deal of success by showcasing his own strong interest in the news media.
“I post stories that interest me,” says Romenesko.
The Evanston, Ill.-based Romenesko has had a fascination with the Internet since the early 1990s, when the term “blogging” didn’t yet exist. In 1996 he took a job as an Internet columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota. Two years later he decided to start his own Web site, the Obscure Store & Reading Room, which focused on his personal fascination with offbeat news and media stories.
A year later, the media section of the blog broke off as Mediagossip.com, and quickly gained a strong following. The editor of Poynter Online, the Web site of the nonprofit journalism center Poynter Institute, heard about the blog and quickly hired him. Mediagossip.com became so successful—and so closely tied to its founder—that it was eventually renamed simply Romenesko.
“I like being able to spend the day reading newspapers, blogs and other Web sites, and sharing the interesting stories with others.”
Not only is Romenesko the sole writer of the Romenesko blog, he also continues to maintain the Obscure Store & Reading Room, as well as a newer blog, Starbucks Gossip, dedicated to the coffee powerhouse. So, why blog about Starbucks? Does Romenesko have a strong liking for grande soy mocha lattes?
“‘Like’ isn’t the correct term,” says Romenesko. Starbucks is “simply a good place to do my work. It has wireless Internet, coffee and no cigarette smoke.”
Romenesko is dedicated blogger. He rises every day at 5 a.m. and immediately checks his e-mail and bookmarked Web sites for stories of interest. He later steps out to a nearby Starbucks (go figure), and hooks his computer up to a Wi-Fi connection to work from there, reading dozens of newspaper sites and blogs.
He usually heads home from Starbucks in the late afternoon—still posting until dinnertime—and goes to bed by 10 p.m., only to start the entire process all over again seven hours later.
Romenesko insists that he maintains a “real life” outside the blogosphere. “Of course, between postings I do ‘normal’ things—watch TV, read books, newspapers, magazines, go to movies, meet up with friends, dine out.”
Even so, maintaining three daily blogs takes a great deal of time and effort. So much so that he hasn’t taken more than two vacations in the last five years. What’s more, all those daily visits to Starbucks had him drinking 10 cups of coffee a day. Fortunately, he’s kicked the habit, he says, and is now down to three or four cups daily.
“I like being able to spend the day reading newspapers, blogs and other Web sites, and sharing the interesting stories with others,” says Romenesko. “I like the immediate feedback, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know journalists from around the world, via e-mail, over the years.”
He says he is particularly attracted to posting links to profiles of journalists, issue-of-the-day stories, smart commentaries on media issues, and offbeat stories, such as a recent article about a TV news anchor who was suspended for cutting her hair without getting management permission.
After many years working in Internet journalism, his only real gripe is when he wants to link to an article on the Web site of a small- or medium-sized newspaper and runs into a registration or subscription wall.
“I’ll rarely go through the trouble of registering, because I know few Romenesko readers will register to read one story, and know there’s only a slim chance of returning to that Web site,” he says.
As one of the few paid bloggers, Romenesko believes that more organizations and companies will start hiring people to blog. “I think it would be smart for firms to experiment with blogs on their intranets—offer relevant links to employees and the opportunity to comment on them.”
As a daily observer of the journalism world, what does Romenesko see as the big issue in journalism today? One is figuring out how to make money from the online editions of newspapers, he says. “Somebody has to pay for the reporting.”