Blogonomics: Romenesko

Howell Raines reports on Jim Romenesko:

Romenesko is Poynter’s highest-paid nonexecutive employee, at more than $170,000 a year…

Because Romenesko is an online pioneer with old-fashioned newspaper values, he chose to do it in a nonprofit environment, but money can be made with his formula. That’s why Poynter has steadily boosted his pay and why Roy Peter Clark and others at the institute are anxious that an internet giant like Microsoft, Google, or Yahoo will soon dangle a big salary in front of him to shift-key his daily bundle of nearly 100,000 unique visitors over to its website. Poynter comforts itself with the thought that Romenesko didn’t found MediaGossip back in the dawn of the digital era with the idea of becoming rich. But like the rest of us, he might not mind wealth if it plopped into his lap.

The $170k figure is actually now three years old; given that Romenesko’s salary more than doubled between 2000 and 2005, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Romenesko was now making more than $200k. (Rich!)

Could Romenesko earn more than that in a for-profit environment, given 100,000 monthly uniques and a readership which is, if not shrinking, at least no longer growing? I’m not at all sure. His readership is high, for a blog, but the numbers alone are not the kind of thing which will get any media company salivating. It’s the demographics which are much more attractive: Romenesko reaches a huge proportion of important media insiders and influencers. But whether that reach could be effectively monetized I’m not at all sure: it would probably take a dedicated sales person to even try, and such people generally cost well over $200,000 themselves.

Of course, at any time someone might come along and offer Romenesko an enormous salary and/or equity in a new company just for prestige value alone. But as Raines points out, the prestige associted with old-school first-generation bloggers is fast evaporating: do the kids these days really know or care who Jason Kottke is?

For those of us who have been following Romenesko since his days, he will always be a pioneer and a role model. But I think he has a good thing going at Poynter, and I don’t think he will or should take Raines’s advice to jump ship next time a rival job offer comes along.

Update: According to the nonprofit information service Guidestar, Romenesko made $170,419 as of December 2006.

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