Romenesko Quotemarkgate

As Poynter revealed that Jim Romenesko didn't always put quotes around verbatim bits of his source story in his posts, journos debated whether or not the case was an issue worth worrying about.

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  1. "Though information sources have always been displayed prominently in Jim’s posts and are always linked at least once (often multiple times), too many of those posts also included the original author’s verbatim language without containing his or her words in quotation marks, as they should have."
    ...
    "This style represents Jim’s deliberate choice to be transparent about the information’s origins while using the source’s own words to represent his or her work. If only for quotation marks, it would be exactly right. Without those quotation marks, it is incomplete and inconsistent with our publishing practices and standards on Poynter.org."
  2. One word noticeably missing from Poynter's write-up was "plagiarism." Instead, Julie Moos says Romenesko exhibited a "pattern of incomplete attribution." In an e-mail interview with 10,000 words, Moos explains her word choice:
    “Jim’s intent was to credit the source and his posts do that with a source line and at least one link back to the original material, often more. He is transparent about where the information originated, he just missed a step by failing to signal the reader with quotation marks when verbatim text was being used. Others are free to characterize it how they wish, I don’t characterize it as plagiarism, which usually involves an intent to deceive.”
  3. The dust-up started after Columbia Journalism Review's Erika Fry called Poynter to discuss underattribution on Romenesko's blog.
  4. A few came out upset or disappointed by Romenesko (whether his writing practices or something else). Others welcomed the changes (including additional pre-editing), believing they would offer some clarity.
  5. Dan Mitchell in a comment on Romenesko's Facebook page:
    "I've never noticed that you used material verbatim without quotes or direct, immediate attribution (though I wasn't looking for it), as was apparently done in the example given here. But this example is a little troubling to me. There are longish passages that I would have assumed was your own writing. This is most definitely NOT the standard for a professional blog, where attributions have to be clear. 
    It's easily remedied, but this example, at least, meets the definition of plagiarism, especially given that your own writing is interspersed with that of others. I don't think you're a "plagiarist" -- in that I don't think you were being lazy or trying to fool anyone -- but this does meet the definition."
  6. Comment from Pink on the Romensko post
    "Wait. Why are you fluffing up and trying to put a costume on plagiarism? This really isn't "aggregation;" it's flat-out plagiarism. When you take someone else's words and sentences and insert them into your own article, without quotation marks or without citing the source, it is plagiarism. It didn't take a "sharp eye" to notice this, but it did take someone to take the time to actually point this out to Poynter. Who knows if this was done purposely or done by laziness, but call it what it is, Poytner or else it just seems like you're not taking this seriously and that you're offended that someone could complain about this."
  7. But the majority of people seemed the be coming out in support of Romenesko.
  8. And some pointed to other related issues.
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