The original Julie Moos post was highly misleading in one respect — she made it seem as though Romenesko hadn’t blockquoted two full paragraphs in this post, when in fact he had used blockquote. I know Moos was misleading because Jack Shafer said that she “pointed to a recent example from Romenesko’s work in which he ran whole sentences from a Chicago Tribune story in his summary of it without placing the words in quotation marks or block quotation”. I suspect that the problem here is that Poynter’s CSS has problems with blockquotes-within-blockquotes, but in any case Moos should have been much clearer that only a minority of the text in question was outside quote marks or blockquotes.
Justin Peters managed to commit exactly the same sin that Moos did, when he reminisced about freelancing on Today’s Papers. “I knuckled down and found a way to say things in my own words, because I am a journalist, and that is my job,” he writes, managing to to completely miss the point of what an aggregator does. It’s not the job of a journalist, saying things in his own words: instead, it’s the job of a curator, linking to great content. If Peters thinks that Romenesko’s job was that of a journalist, writing things in his own words, he’s missing the point entirely.
Erika Fry’s CJR piece, when it arrived, was perfectly reasonable. The posts on Romenesko have gotten so long, of late, that readers no longer need to click through to the original. (This is known in some quarters as “over-aggregation”, and it’s exacerbated by a social-media policy where links go to the Poynter pickup, rather than to the original source.) Fry makes the entirely intuitive case that the likelihood of incomplete attribution rises with the length of pieces, and that the real problem here isn’t Romenesko’s behavior, but rather the way that Romenesko pieces have been getting longer and longer.
According to Moos’s own guidelines, which she quoted in her piece, the stated reason for all these rules about attribution is ” to prevent plagiarism, intentional or otherwise”. So she did use the p-word, and she did therefore imply that what Romenesko was doing was some kind of unintentional plagiarism. If there was no question of plagiarism, then it’s not entirely obvious why the plagiarism-avoidance part of the guidelines should even be germane.