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Monday, June 20, 2011

Everyone's a Critic



"With more than 800 food blogs in Australia, traditional restaurant reviewers are under challenge. But is this really a triumph for democracy?"

Eagle-eyed readers would have noticed the article, Everyone's a Critic, written by Elizabeth Meryment in The Weekend Australian magazine.

Even after reading the final piece several times, I'm still not sure what my final thoughts are. There are a couple of points I think need to be clarified, like the fact that 800 food blogs does not equal 800 restaurant review blogs: food blogs cover all manner of topics including cooking, food history, diet, nutrition and personal stories.

I should also point out that I didn't "[take] up blogging after failing to get a job after finishing a journalism degree". I worked in corporate communications and public relations, took off overseas, backpacked around Europe and returned to Australia when I had a chance encounter with a food blog one day and decided to start my own.

Meryment says "For many in traditional media, though, the encroachment of bloggers onto their territory is worrying."  It always strikes me as odd that print journalists presume all food bloggers are attempting to usurp their role. Food blogs, in my opinion, operate on an entirely different dynamic - they are, by their very nature, personal and diary-like, and written from a layperson's view.

I can't speak for every food blog, but I know that I aim to share, to entertain and to celebrate the joy of food with each post that I publish. The online public decides which articles they choose to read and believe, and their ability to discern quality of writing, credentials and thoroughness of research should not be underestimated.

There are a couple of bold statements in the article, but a few points that all bloggers should heed. Public relations consultant Elisabeth Drysdale is quoted as saying "Anybody can write a blog. My dog can write a blog."

EDIT [9.40am 21/6/11]: There has been some comment that the quote from Elisabeth Drysdale was taken out of the context. The full quote was:
“People turn up to events and say, ‘I should be allowed in, I’m a food blogger’,” says public relations consultant Elisabeth Drysdale, who handles some of the nation’s biggest food names. “And I’m like, ‘So what? Anybody can write a blog. My dog can write a blog.’ Having said that, there are a couple I really like.”
It is important to note that Elisabeth Drysdale is not the author of this article, Elizabeth Meryment. 

She continues: “There are a few bloggers who are not transparent with their audience... We have noticed that one or two write [about] and promote clients that pay them, which is misleading their audience. And if a blogger receives a free meal, they should let people know, as newspapers do.”

Read the full article here. What are your thoughts on the piece?

~~~
EDIT [1am 21/6/11]: Wow, I expected a number of responses to this article but even I've been taken aback by the intensity of discussion online. Based on the flurry of comments below, I do feel there is a need to add some clarification of my thoughts on the article.

I was interviewed by Elizabeth Meryment for this piece and yes, confirmation was sought -- and provided -- on my quotes. Confirmation was not sought on the text outside of quotation marks, and it's here that I felt my reasons for starting a food blog were misconstrued. On the question "how did you start food blogging?" my constant (and honest) answer has been that I discovered a Hawaiian food blog, Ono Kine Grindz, one day and was excited by the revelation of instant online publishing, the ability to engage with an audience, and the benefit of honing my craft, with the idea that my blog could potentially serve as an online portfolio of work.

It's true that I told Elizabeth I struggled to find a job in print media after graduating (who hasn't?) but her quote that I "took up blogging after failing to get a job after finishing a journalism degree" insinuates that a) I was unemployed (I wasn't) and b) there was a direct causal relationship between my lack of (journalistic) employment and my decision to start a blog. Elizabeth's quote is correct if using a historical timeline, but I think her choice of words imply a different meaning and -- call me a stickler for detail -- I felt obliged to clear any potential confusion.

Having said that, I don't harbour any ill will toward Elizabeth Meryment nor anyone quoted in the article. And I don't agree that personal attacks on anyone is necessary nor justified. Noone should be above criticism or self-reflection -- there were plenty of questions raised that warranted consideration and discussion, and the hypocrisy of a restaurant review blog being aversive to criticism is not lost on me. I am constantly striving to improve and always open to constructive criticism.

What I do find interesting is that so many articles on food blogging focus on where blogs fall short compared to 'traditional' media rather than exploring the unique attributes they can bring. I do think there is a broad spectrum of blogs out there, but that is to be expected when you are talking about a forum that is open, unmoderated and freely available to all.

I'm fascinated by deeper questions, like how and why are blog readers so heavily invested in the writers behind them? How many niche readerships are now catered for by specialist blogs? Does traditional media have its own "territory" and should it remain inaccessible to anyone outside it?  Are bloggers really trying to invade traditional media territory or are they creating a new frontier of communication that blends personality with information, photography and community engagement?

Comparing bloggers to industry journalists misses the whole point of the blogging phenomenon - people read blogs because they're not written by journalists, nor in a traditional newspaper format or style. The question is, why?

152 comments - Add some comment love

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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/20/2011 01:09:00 am


152 Comments:

  • At 6/20/2011 1:43 am, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    hummm..i just read the article and all i can say is that journalists just like to make everything bitter dont they? its like they will feel good about themselves if they bring someone (or in this case, bloggers) down.

    most of the article is bull shit. her dog can write a blog? lets see if it can do that. i doubt she can even get her dog to stand.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 2:03 am, Anonymous Lola (Figs and Brie) said…

    Honestly Helen, I'm offended on your behalf. The entire tone of the article is insulting and the information is a complete generalisation, they seem to as if be saying 'sit down little people, and let the professionals do their job', which is unsurprising I suppose, coming from a very 'old media' newspaper. The thing about food blogs is that most of them aren't trying to be restaurant critics, even if they 'review' places, they do it to provide information and their own opinions.

    I don't think professional journalists should feel threatened by our presence, nor should they be dismissive of it - however they should understand that blogs connect with 'ordinary people' on a much more personal level than some high and mighty newspaper critic, which is one of the reasons for their popularity. I don't take myself or my blog seriously at all, and I think the same goes for most other food blogs.

    Also my first reaction: I can't believe they published a photo of you!

     
  • At 6/20/2011 2:12 am, Anonymous Karen | Citrus and Candy said…

    Shame shame on them for not getting their facts right about you >_<

    It's frustrating how media still can't grasp the fact that not all food blogs deal with restaurant reviews. So what we get is yet another boring blah-blah article about commoners who (according to them yet again) are threatening to take over traditional media and food critics. Yay for unimaginative and repetitive journalism! Just wait a few months, there will be another one of these gems for us to choke on sheesh.

    It would be nice to read something for once that actually celebrates the positives of all kinds of food blogs rather than regurgitating the same tired old arguments. It's so 2009. Seriously, move on or find a nice dog show to cover instead because we're bored.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 3:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As far as I am concerned, food bloggers (and bloggers more generally) are the most honest form of journalism there is today. Most often blogging is done from the heart, based on real experience, and without the expectation of a cheque arriving at the end of the week.

    Real journalism in the mass media died a long time ago in Australia. There are very few people actually investigating stories and bringing them to light. The vast majority of stories you read in the paper, magazines and even on television are the consequence of someone "selling" their story to the newspaper, or news that has been "borrowed" from real news sources overseas. In fact, newspapers and "real journalists" very often get their information about a story from bloggers - with hilarious consequences when the blog is a joke/satire.

    Oh, and there are plenty of bloggers with better qualifications than these "journalists". How many times do you see a spelling/grammar mistake on a news website or in a newspaper? You would think that they would have mastered the basics of the occupation that pays their salaries.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 3:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Isn't it ironic and quite funny that Meryment has a typo in her article at the word "professionalism"?

    Also, my guess is that the only way this Elizabeth Meryment would know the difference between a pong teh and a bak kut teh would be to come and read your blog?

    Quite sad that the story will get many more hits now just because you've linked it from your page. You've done her a favour.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:22 am, Anonymous Goob said…

    Where on earth did Elisabeth Drysdale get her dog? Because I need one for typing and dictaphone work asap.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 7:05 am, Blogger Michelle Chin said…

    I disagree. I feel that our reviews are more legitimate than traditional reporters because they are paid to eat (unless bloggers are paid to eat as well) and we are not. Because we fork our own money, we are more honest with our reviews.

    Also, the reason why blogs appeal to people because each review is so personal. It's like peering into the mind of an individual. For instance, if I were to read your blog, I also hope to get a glimpse of this person's life. It's so different and much more refreshing that reading a traditional review.

    Plus, most food bloggers in Australia actually have cooking experiences at one form or another. At least, I know that I can cook. I may not be as good as the chefs out there or my mom, but if people think that my recipes are workable, how is that going to show that I cannot cook? Or does that mean that my readers have poor tastebuds.

    Overall, I feel that the article applies to only a few food bloggers out of the many who become food bloggers for the sake of attending free invitations and not for the love for really good food.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 7:28 am, Anonymous Gourmet Getaways said…

    It sounds like sour grapes to me...

    It seems like she has missed the mark completely, as others have said, blogging is opening up your diary to the world and sharing the joys of what you are experiencing in life.

    We are not competitive, we are not trying to take anyones job away. I certainly don't want to be sitting at a desk being told what to write about. There is a comradeship amongst bloggers because we are all coming from the same love of food and life, it sounds like Elizabeth should try a little harder in her job if she feels threatened, or perhaps resign and let her dog go into work for her.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 7:49 am, Anonymous Jobe said…

    That time of the month when another journo has to roll out the boring food blogs are evil article.

    I really dislike this article. The tone is snarky and negative towards the bloggers. This time because food bloggers aren't critical enough. Next month it will be because these "anonymous people" are too critical without being trained journos.

    And once again it totally ignores the fact that the food blogging/journalism debate isn't about the quality of writing, it's about how people get information these days.

    I agree that if a blogger gets a free meal they should disclose it on their blog, but give me a break. If anyone reads blogs expecting to be reading a perfectly composed piece of work then they're dreaming. People read food blogs for pretty pictures and tip-offs.


    It also groups everyone with a food blog together.

    I mean, honestly, I've had my food blog for 4/5 years and have never once done a freebie review or made a single dollar from it. I never take photos at restaurants and I've never told a chef that I'm a blogger so I demand special attention. It's just there because I like recording food related things.

    It's pathetic that this article tries to tar everyone with the same brush and say that food bloggers only start food blogs so they can get invited to free dinners.


    All of that said, that Marco Pierre White thing was a bit of a joke.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 8:22 am, Anonymous Squeak said…

    This comment in the article I find interesting:

    “There are a few bloggers who are not transparent with their audience... We have noticed that one or two write [about] and promote clients that pay them, which is misleading their audience".

    How does she know they are being paid to promote a client? or is she just making an assumption?

    Our blog is under attack from an 'anonymous' person, who consistently accuses us of not being transparent & of being the owners of/having an interest in Bar Mattino. All this because we have reviewed it favourably & have reviewed some other cafes not so favourably.

    This makes me so angry, we have not received so much as a free meal from Bar Mattino, let alone anything else. We have loved this cafe for years & yes we sing its praises. We try to be very honest with all our reviews....good or bad, so to be accused of not being transparent makes my blood boil.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 8:58 am, Anonymous Martyna@WholesomeCook said…

    "Anybody can write a blog. My dog can write a blog."

    Really? I say perhaps he/she (the dog) should start a blog then. Would it be reviewing dog food only or cat food as well? I'd read it either way because the concept would be unique... And that's what blogging is about, right?

    I'm in the non-restaurant review category. My own background is corporate, but I have a passion for developing recipes. Most of the recipes on my blog are created from scratch, on paper. I test and blog about the ones that have turned out. I share my stories. And encourage others to get out there and cook good, wholesome food. Is that so bad?

     
  • At 6/20/2011 8:58 am, Blogger MissPiggy said…

    Yawn! At least food bloggers are giving "real journalists" something to write about. It seems that every month or so a similar article is rolled out – they are so obsessed with bloggers and the fear we are taking over their jobs that they cannot see the difference between a food critic’s review in the SMH and my blog for example, which is just a bit of fun and is mostly read by my family and friends.

    And I love the way this “real journalist” didn’t even check her facts before writing about Helen – isn’t fact checking a part of the job? Seems not when you are a professional journo.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 9:07 am, OpenID lateraleating said…

    I found the statement about your career very rude. Makes it sound like you've failed, which clearly is not the case. IMO, this article was powered by a mix fear and envy, instead of setting things clear: food bloggers and professional critics are not competitors in the same game.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 9:13 am, Blogger muppy said…

    I just read the article and it does seem to box food bloggers into the ones that just review. And it does seem to assume that all bloggers blog for the same reason. Bit narrow sighted I would say, my blog is just a humble cooking blog because I love to cook. I don't own a good camera and I have no grand ambitions, just love to cook and find it fun to write my blog and even funner reading everyone elses.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 9:15 am, Anonymous Lucy said…

    What's amazing to me is that this very article has been, in various forms, written time and again by Australian journalists. "Everyone's a Critic". Even the article's title's been done to death.

    Time for them to start writing about other things, methinks.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 9:15 am, Blogger felixexplody said…

    IMHO a dog blog would be pretty sh*t. I doubt many people would read it. Same goes for food blogs too; people don't want to read utter sh*t, and they won't. Longevity and a large and loyal readership reflects quality and an engagement with audience, just like the print media. Of course there are issues with ethics and transparency, it's a shame that the article doesn't mention the movement amongst bloggers to discuss these things and develop guidelines, eg eat drink blog.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 9:28 am, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    Ah I read this yesterday and felt quite offended since she spoke as if food bloggers were just a marketing extension for PR companies -.-

     
  • At 6/20/2011 9:40 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    Isn't it great to see food bloggers being so newsworthy? For 'professional' journos to go out of their way to write a (misdirected, generic) article about food bloggers - we must be something of note. Is there such thing as short poppy syndrome?
    Great fact checking job too. The journo might like to clear that up for you Helen.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 9:42 am, Anonymous Sara (Belly Rumbles) said…

    What do you say? Well actually when I first initially read the article last week I had a lot to say. Really is an old subject. We will be reading a similar article in 6 months time. Let's hope that one gets your facts straight Helen.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 9:56 am, Anonymous Brian said…

    This is a typical Oz article, all layout and superficiallity and not much substance.Blogs, food and otherwise, are like journalists : some good, some not so good, and some dismal. The gross number is not important and probably the Pareto principle applies: 20% are any good. If the Oz had any respect for it's readers it would let them decide. This from a paper whose owner is trying to charge for on-line access around the world. Could it be that they are trying to discredit writers who offer free access? Surely not and surely their journalists would not be part of that? Would they..............

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:07 am, Anonymous Elisabeth Drysdale said…

    Talk about being taken out of context! The next sentence reads...'and there are some bloggers I really like'. Which I do. BTW my dog is starting his own blog...Elisabeth Drysdale

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:10 am, Anonymous Simon @ the heart of food said…

    Cannot wait for the day when there is some fair & considerate article that accurately encompasses food bloggers, or hones the argument to a specific sub-group. I have no issue with criticism. I just wish it was more constructive and original than being pretty much the same old blather.

    Not sure if congrats are in order for being featured in a print again but there it is all the same :)

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:15 am, Anonymous chopinandmysaucepan said…

    Food bloggers blog for all sorts of reasons.

    Some blog to get freebies, some to get recognition, some to share, some for gratification and some do it purely out of a passion for food and things associated with food.

    Personally, I think it is important for a blogger to understand his/her reason for blogging and be guided by their own philosophy for so doing.

    The "fear" from traditional media and journalists of bloggers might stem from the fact that bloggers have more flexibility and are not governed by any particular code of ethics and conduct like most professions. Because bloggers are becoming increasingly prominent, I believe there is also a responsibility on bloggers to be objective and independent if it is their intention to be taken seriously by readers and traditional media.

    Good bloggers take it upon themselves to be professional, that is, to be objective, independent and to avoid any possible conflict of interest. In time, this professional approach will set them apart from others in just the same way as any other profession.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:24 am, Anonymous @noblecuvee said…

    We totally enjoyed reading this story (traditional wording) or post (non-tradtional wording) and the arguments for and against. Personally, I think it is great that we are able to have an upfront discussion like this: Do both sides actually need to make a stand? Should traditional media and non-traditional media compliment one another? Who can say for sure?

    Hey, Martyna - I actually work with the dog in question (Winston - he is our office manager and minor celebrity in his own right). He is a genius and I reckon his blog would be erudite and incisive - his shiny coat is testimony to the fact he is well and truly across the gourmet food scene.

    Note:- if Winston is able to take time from his busy blogging schedule - all typing enquiries should be directed to our office. J.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:28 am, Anonymous jenius said…

    I'm so glad you did this post. I read the article over the weekend and was fuming. Did you give them permission to publish that photo of you too? :-/

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:32 am, Blogger lifeis2munch said…

    Dear Helen,

    Like the article title, "everyone's a critic" and this time they are criticizing you... it's unfortunate but I think it just shows how bloggers such as yourself has growing influence in the f&b industry. As with any success it will attract insecurities and jealousy. It's a fact that we can't please everyone. So I'd say to you, Keep doing what you love, because it shows and there are tons of readers out there (myself included) who appreciates your posts!

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:40 am, Anonymous Apple @Polkadotsandchopsticks said…

    Little bit gobsmacked to be honest. That article was rather hash towards you and every other food blogger out there. I truly don't understand the problem. Food bloggers write what they want to write - they're not employed by anyone to write reviews. It's a matter of posting your personal opinion about food, products, books, restaurants etc on a site that anyone can read if they choose to.

    Maybe the big issue is, food bloggers can be completely honest about their opinion on food or restaurants because food isn't really a job - its a passion.
    All food bloggers are writing about food for the main reason - they love food.
    Food bloggers in general might enjoy writing or journalism but they're choosen to write about food for the love of it.

    To me, journalism and food blogging are not one in the same. I love your blog Helen and you can tell by reading it that your obviously an honest person about your opinions and have a real passion for food.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:41 am, Blogger Julia @Mélanger said…

    Completely agree with you. There are a range of food blogs, not all review blogs. I only blog about items I bake, and never wander into reviewing territory (only in paid work). I feel disappointed to read we've all been labelled the same way.

    So sorry to read what they wrote incorrectly about you, too. Did they contact you to check? Doesn't sound like they did. Thought a rule of journalism was to verify your quotes/references?

    I do agree with the end of the article, however. There are good bloggers and good journalists. But also some not so good bloggers and equally journalists.

    But it would be nice if traditional media journalists, with their big paper resources, saw the role of bloggers as an opportunity to drive their own editoral content into new directions?

    I could say more, but I won't! :)

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:43 am, Anonymous Lien said…

    This is the first article I read this weekend! I thought the tone of the article is definitely a case of "sour grapes". Food bloggers aren't stopping the journos from doing their job. People choose to read whatever they like. The only comment that I'm inclined to agree with in that article is that several food blogs I read are generally more complimentary to restaurants that gave them a free meal. I generally skim over those posts and just read the reviews of meals the blogger paid for themselves. I don't abandon the blog as I think if they got a free meal out of it, good on them, however will only read the ones where I felt it's been properly critiqued.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Did I miss something? Where was the criticism of Helen? Maybe your readers are too defensive?

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:53 am, Anonymous Elizabeth Drysdale's Dog said…

    Woof woof, woof woof arf arf.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:54 am, Blogger Vivienne said…

    just read the article! they totally put all bloggers in one basket and failed to understand that most bloggers prob do it to keep track of their personal culinary journey. its also terrible that they put up false info about you failing to get a job too!

     
  • At 6/20/2011 11:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Does anybody else find it ironic the nasty comments about the journalist who wrote the story are a thousand times nastier than anything she wrote about the bloggers? What does it say about people who read blogs and make comments? Maybe it's time for the blogging community to take stock of some of their behaviours including a) accepting freebies and b)allowing freaks to leave comments at the bottom of their posts

     
  • At 6/20/2011 11:18 am, Blogger Tambourine said…

    I don't understand what the big whoop is, really. When I want to find out whether a restaurant is worth going to, I'd read ALL the reviews I can get my hands on - traditional or otherwise. Doesn't a diversity in opinion give you a clearer idea of what to expect? And isn't a food critic - in essence - doing the same thing as a food blogger? They are giving their opinion, and the reader can choose to agree or disagree with them. So are bloggers.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 11:33 am, Blogger Shawn said…

    As Lucy and other folks mentioned - they seem to trot this same article out every six months or so, yawn...

     
  • At 6/20/2011 11:37 am, Blogger Nibehlung said…

    Journalists are worrying because in this day and age their role has become less and less important. People now have a way to find information not from the major news outlet and they prefer it that way. Journalists don't like it.

    Maybe it's time for the blogging community to take stock of some of their behaviours including a) accepting freebies and b)allowing freaks to leave comments at the bottom of their posts

    It's called "free speech". If you don't like, you're free to not read it. If you can't take the heat, then don't stir up the pot in the first place by writing crappy obituaries masked as informative piece.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 11:42 am, Anonymous anh@anhsfoodblog.com said…

    such kind of article was shown in The Australian? This is why Australian journalism has fallen so badly IMHO.

    Thanks God we have the internet and other forms of media out there.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 12:10 pm, Anonymous wabster said…

    While there might exist a few "paid for comments" blogs, all in all food blogs are great entertaining writing and information sources, as varied as there are writers. Caveat emptor with that readers :-)

    On restaurant reviews, what does some paid journo think gives them the right to sole activity is this sphere anyway?

    Rubbish journalism, typical of Murdoch press.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 12:13 pm, Blogger Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    Here we go again....I just wish they had used a nicer pic of me! LOL! ;-) Oh! By the way, my friend's shih tzu has a Facebook profile!

     
  • At 6/20/2011 12:17 pm, Blogger Hungry Female said…

    Am beginning to wonder if this is a stunt - write a controversial article about bloggers, who will then blog about it. Regardless, we all have something to say and are entitled to our opinions.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 12:17 pm, OpenID camillapeffer said…

    An overtly anti-new media article appears in a newspaper owned by a publisher who is fighting with his dentured teeth and nails to impose a pay wall...why does this surprise anyone? Journalists should be worried. People see a journalist as just a part of the publication they represent, whereas bloggers don't have a charter to abide by. I can just imagine Ms. Meryment yelling at those damn bloggers to get off her damn lawn, fist raised, as she returns to her type writer.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 12:26 pm, Anonymous Chris said…

    Wow, what an uproar. It's a shame that traditional media can't take a little 'competition' - if they want to interpret it like that. Which it isn't really. Seems like they have a very skewed image of what is really out there in terms of food blogs and very poor research. And to think, they lash out at food bloggers for being unprofessional when all these articles do is show how unprofessional they can be.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 1:07 pm, Anonymous Lex said…

    I agree with most comments here and don’t have much further to add. It is an old argument… long before journalists there was word of mouth and now there are just bloggers using the internet as a platform to share stories. Sure some bloggers might get free meals but for the majority of us we never have and probably never will. Regardless, we don’t get paid as journalists are, we just write about what we love. In an era when wars, poverty and general doom and gloom covers the TV screens, I personally love to spend time reading about the nicer side of life, and my passion happens to be about food. I read a lot about food - I read books, I read magazines, I read blogs. And a year ago I decided I wanted to document my experiences too. Let’s hope the journos get on with their job and leave us to our blogging.

    One thing I would like to clarify is that while Dylan and I may have a blog where restaurants are reviewed with a score out of 20, we started doing this to compare notes on each restaurant and determine our favourites. Regardless of whether we give restaurants a score or not, this does not mean we are trying to compete with or challenge journalists in any way, I just like to write lists.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 1:15 pm, Anonymous Craig @ Craig and Caroline Hind said…

    I really don't get what the problem is as there is room for both styles of writing.

    I could say a whole lot, but it's already been said in the comments, however I do want to say that a key difference between bloggers and journos is that bloggers tend to write about food that they love, and restaurants that they personally have paid to visit. We wouldn't visit and spend our hard earned cash on a restaurant that didn't look good, and possibly already have some good reviews.

    Another difference, at least from my point of view is that journos and critics are about reviewing new, trendy places, whereas I visit the restaurants that I want to visit, whether they are new and trendy or old, trusted and suburban. Places that the journalists had grown tired of.

    As a blogger I try to visit at least one restaurant a week. I have no idea who it will be until the day we decide and go there, and it'll be a restaurant that I've heard of or want to try, but the style of cuisine just depends on what I feel like on the day. I try to have a broad range of cuisines that I visit, but only because I like a lot of different styles of food. You won't find a French restaurant on my blog because I don't like a lot of the food that you'll find in a French restaurant, but that's the point, everyone is different and you'll find a French restaurant on a blog of someone who does like that type of food.

    As far as criticism is concerned, I agree that most bloggers don't criticise, at least not in a scathing manner. I have a simple rule. If I go to a restaurant and the food is good, then I blog about it, but if the food isn't good, then I don't. I guess that's a kind of passive criticism. And that's where reviewers take over. They're respected and paid to do that, I'm not.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 1:37 pm, Anonymous FFichiban said…

    Go helen go! Will read article later when I get home but I can safely assume it's the same load of bs they give everytime? They rly should spend less time trying to turn us into scapegoats and spend more time promoting their dog-written blogs.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 1:52 pm, Anonymous Miss Feathers said…

    I couldn't agree more with the comments that everyone else has already made in response. I hope that everyone writes in to the Weekend Australian Magazine to tell them exactly what you think about the article. Our blogging voices need to be heard too.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 1:56 pm, Anonymous Jess said…

    I don't understand why there is such defensiveness on the part of 'traditional' food critics and journalists of the food blogging community.
    I for one love your blog and others like it because it isn't pretentious and takes me to places that I would actually like to go and looking at your pictures (which I might add that most reviews are lacking) makes me excited to try new places!

    Keep up the good work Helen!

     
  • At 6/20/2011 2:03 pm, Blogger Simon Leong said…

    I WANNA READ HER DOG'S BLOG NOW. I WONDER IF IT'S ABOUT WHERE TO GET THE BEST PUPPYCHINOS IN TOWN? HEHE. I was surprised to see you in the photo without a blur over it too. Looks like a great table of food bloggers to me. Shame on Elizabeth for not getting the facts right — but then again, they're only journalist — OUCH!!! ;-)

     
  • At 6/20/2011 3:21 pm, Blogger Phuoc'n Delicious said…

    *yawn* Same ol' story me thinks... I think they've run out of things to write. Wake me up when they have something new to say. I'm going back to bed :p

     
  • At 6/20/2011 4:02 pm, Blogger irene christiana said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 4:05 pm, Anonymous Elizabeth Meryment said…

    Also can people please stop attacking me personally, it's quite unpleasant. thanks, Elizabeth

     
  • At 6/20/2011 4:30 pm, Anonymous Elizabeth Meryment said…

    Hi Helen
    I posted a response to your readers earlier but it's clearly gone missing so I will post it again.
    There have been some interesting and many predictable responses to the story (old media beat up, blah blah).
    One thing I'd like to address is the situation about your reasons for taking up blogging. You told me that you started it because you didn't get a job in journalism. If you dodn't want me to report that then it might have been wise not to say it. But you did say it to me, I just wanted people to know that.
    It might also be intersting for your readers to know that I double checked all my quotes with you and that we spoke several times, both in person and via email.
    Your readers might also like to be informed that I have been incredibly supportive of you this year, both in public and private. I see my book - to which you contributed - is listed besides all these comments.
    cheers
    Elizabeth Meryment
    PS. As you know Helen, far from being bitter and twisted, I am a very cheerful person. Just saying

     
  • At 6/20/2011 5:07 pm, Anonymous Chris said…

    @Elizabeth Meryment - I don't know that Helen ever said you were bitter or twisted. Where did you come up with that?

     
  • At 6/20/2011 5:16 pm, Anonymous Josh Murray said…

    As any PR agent will say....

    "Any publicity is good publicity"

    ...so enjoy the fame.

    There's impeccable, good, bad and damn right awful writers out there regardless of the qualifications or letters after their names. Just like chefs... you don't need a doctorate to scramble eggs to perfection.

    The one's who are meant to survive will thrive and the ones who aren't... thanks for the memories.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 5:53 pm, Anonymous Myffy Rigby said…

    Instead of being outraged, how about just concentrating on making your craft bullet proof? That goes for print and online. I say keep enjoying restaurants, and read Helen's excellent stories in Time Out magazine!

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:07 pm, Anonymous Ed said…

    I wish journalists would appreciate the diversity of blogs.

    I think when we all started there was a purity to blogs.Helen you were searching out all those restaurants that weren't covered in the mainstream. Since then just like the journalists that write about us we've been sucked in by PRs for freebies, which naturally biaise how we report.

    The same goes for travel. Travel journalism runs on freebies which biases the reporting. Now blogers are taking these frebies and are biased in their reporting.

    I'm not sure there's anything wrong with accepting free meals. I know that for many journalists - including the big name reviewers - they wouldn't to be able to afford to sample as diverse amount of food that they do without these events.

    Bloggers do it too.

    But more recently I se the trend of big brands inviting large groups of bloggers to events in exchange for agreement to write about it as worrying.

    I think Myff has it write and if we want to avoid criticism that we should make what we do bullet proof. I know I'm not but i'm trying to move that way or at least be transparent about it.

    Perhaps it's an idea that we don't sell ourselves so cheap.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:17 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Mmm...very recently, some bloggers and print journos were taken to this exotic place for a visit..GUESS WHAT ! Who were the first to inform us " hungry news seekers" the review of this trip ??? Triumph the BLOGGERS ! Yes, Helen you made it possible because ..consistent conscientious documentary.Oh! yet to read it in print...perhaps next week, maybe next month or maybe not.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:21 pm, Anonymous Ladybird said…

    Oh my! I did not know about this article and am about to set off to read it now... From your discussion and the excerpts I can already tell I'm going to have some micxed feelings about it.

    At any rate Helen, keep up the good work, as should all the food bloggers out there!

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:34 pm, Anonymous Reemski (via Twitter) said…

    thanks @grabyourfork for summing it up better than I

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:35 pm, Anonymous cafeish (via Twitter) said…

    its just someones opinion.u all get cranky w any negative views on blogs. get over it

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:36 pm, Anonymous EscapedPenguin (via Twitter) said…

    I'm just mystified by the suggestion that journos are above a free lunch...

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:37 pm, Anonymous Cafe_Nervosa (via Twitter) said…

    Ambivalent about 'everyone's a critic' article in @australian. agree with @grabyourfork response

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:38 pm, Anonymous winosandfoodies (via Twitter) said…

    well said Helen.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:39 pm, Anonymous Katmyu (via Twitter) said…

    As journo & food-blog fan I think there's definitely a place for both. What I get from each is entirely different. Keep it up!

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:40 pm, Anonymous lambsearshoney (via Twitter) said…

    all threatened journo's take a deep breath, calm down & get over yourselves.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:41 pm, Anonymous HungryandFrozen (via Twitter) said…

    lol at "of course they're getting paid"... Good grief!

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:42 pm, Anonymous Hungry Female (via Twitter) said…

    Can't we all just get along?

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:43 pm, Anonymous GRUBSTIX (via Twitter) said…

    As long as critiques are objective and not personal vendettas. Any press is good press as long as they're talking about ya...

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:43 pm, Anonymous Cafe_Nervosa (via Twitter) said…

    It was written in such a passive aggressive and patronising tone. You were most civil in your response to the factual errors!

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:44 pm, Anonymous sacharules (via Twitter) said…

    Only insecure journos should fear food bloggers

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:44 pm, Anonymous danivalent (via Twitter) said…

    Confession time: I'm a dead-tree writer and I like blogs (well, lots of them). Is there a 12-step detox I should be doing?

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:45 pm, Anonymous myffyrigby (via Twitter) said…

    @timeoutsydfood uses @grabyourfork (in the mag & online) because she's ace. A good writer is a good writer, no matter what the medium.

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:46 pm, Anonymous lilia97 (via Twitter) said…

    I disagree with Meryment's opinion of foodblogger. Dislike her picture too, it does affirm that she is pointing finger

     
  • At 6/20/2011 6:46 pm, Anonymous victoriacheng (via Twitter) said…

    GYF might be an exception, but I'm with AA Gill

     
  • At 6/20/2011 7:06 pm, Blogger Liss said…

    I know of a lot of PR 'famils' that invite both bloggers and journos. Both will write their findings honestly, but usually it's the blogger who discloses the trip was sponsored/provided/furnished by XYZ tourism.

    I think transparency is quite honestly the most important aspect of blogging (apart from creating interesting and relevant content) - because without it a savvy reader can tell at an instant and the credibility of the reader is held in question - it defeats the purpose.. however I don't think journalists are held to the same standards - should they be?

     
  • At 6/20/2011 7:16 pm, Blogger Jingning said…

    Time to contact Media Watch about that "failing to get a job after finishing a journalism degree" comment!

    I love your blog, btw - the photos always make me hungry :-)

     
  • At 6/20/2011 7:30 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Um, no, Helen, you were clearly all but homeless after uni and started a food blog just so you could survive on free canapes at PR events. :P

    I'm just sick, as you say of all food blogs being equated with restaurant review blogs with no personality. (Which is not, I must add, what I see your blog as either!)

    My blog is generally seen as a food blog, because food threads through most posts, but to be honest I think most of my regular readers are there for my writing more than my food - I myself know my food photos and recipes aren't enough on their own to inspire the lovely comments and emails I receive, so I assume it must be the writing?!

    Also, I'm sorry, no. Your dog could not write a blog, Ms Drysdale. I'd like to think my dog is incredibly clever, but even she could probably only poop on the keyboard.

    (I bet someone will read this and think I have no sense of humour ;) )

     
  • At 6/20/2011 7:55 pm, Anonymous Anavar said…

    Anyone can write a blog, but not anyone can write a good blog. It's the same with cooking.

    Ana

     
  • At 6/20/2011 8:15 pm, Blogger The knife said…

    Hey Helen,

    I am a food blogger from Mumbai, India. Saw this post from the twitter feed of a fellow food blogger at Mumbai.

    I begun blogging three and a half years back because most of the stuff that I would read in magazines and articles would seem like staid advertorials.

    Yes, bloggers don't have to go past editorial control but they are also operating in a pure free market economy. People will read you only if they like you, find you relevant AND credible. Bloggers are not riding on the back of publications.

    Yes bloggers meets & junkets are getting popular, but to dub all food blogging under that would be very ridiculous. The chances of an editorial feature being a paid one is much higher and, at least in India, this is rarely disclosed.

    Reminds me of Apple's 1984 or The Empire Strikes Back

    Cheers

    Kalyan

    PS Interestingly one can post a comment in response to your post but not to the magazine article you referred to. That's the difference between the two media

     
  • At 6/20/2011 8:22 pm, Anonymous Kay said…

    ur blogs informative, beautifully structured and shows passion with food and eating.. what more can you ask for?

    you write better article than that person.. dont mind them .. to us ur still number ! ;)

     
  • At 6/20/2011 9:37 pm, Anonymous tania@mykitchenstories.com.au said…

    I can say little more than has already been said. Blogging involves so much more than accolades and money. It is passion,recreation,hobby,education and practise at life. Love escapedpenguins comment "I'm just mystified by the suggestion that journos are above a free lunch..". Journalists really do need to get into the real world. If they feel threatened then it's time to shape up and learn something new. For a start a little more research about the subject may be the way to start. Really, how many bloggers get free meals and free stuff?..... very few. Work your blogging magic Helen and brush it off ( you'll probably be relevant longer than Elizabeth anyway

     
  • At 6/20/2011 9:59 pm, Blogger Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said…

    Hand on heart, i've never read an article in print media that states that the writer has paid for the meals. And I have never met a food blogger that has dropped the "i should be here, i'm a food blogger excuse" (And if i did, i would honestly slap them)

    As a blogger that could be categorised as writing "restaurant review's" to get a free meal - if I had known that free feeds were in store for food bloggers then i wouldn't have definitely not used my shoe fund money to fuel this hobby. Through blogging I have met so many people that are like minded and enthusiastic about food and that for me is the biggest reward.

    You are one of the most professional, humble and passionate food writers I have been lucky to meet and you hold a wealth of culinary knowledge. Your stories are personal and relatable. Your response to the article has provoked great conversation from readers, bloggers, "journalists" and chefs - The Australian did not even facilitate this. Nor would they ever write about balut. or publish photos of wet markets. You are gritty, and awesome and articulate - and I wonder if we too can train a puppy to do all this so you can have a week off and several cocktails :)

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:21 pm, Anonymous missyfei88 said…

    C'mon all....what's wrong with FREEBIES. THIS IS 21st century...all barter trades are on ! I rather spend my advertising dollar with these bloggers than dumping my hard earned cash on the print ! At least the news are fresher !!! Go Go Helen :-)

     
  • At 6/20/2011 10:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I also get really tired of people who place bloggers in the same category ... I know we aren't professionals and don't claim to be. We just love our tucker and writing about it lets us experience it all over again and share it with others. Blogging is simply an opinion... and last time I checked we were all allowed to have one.
    The reference to the need for transparency is also interesting, and I would suggest, hypocritical. The times I've witnessed the ridiculous symbiotic relationship between professional food writer and restaurant would lead me to believe that regardless of whether the food is free, does not mean that you are getting an unadorned account of the experience.

    People such as the writer of that article, however, really needs to find more important things to concern herself with.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:54 am, Blogger Michelle Chin said…

    Why do people prefer blogs about traditional media? Well, because we don't sound phony and often, when I read a review from the newspaper, 11 times out of 10, it is paid for and the setting is controlled.

    If I were to barge into a restaurant, I will KNOW that what I eat is at it is and there will be no special treatment unless I'm a repeat patron (Like go there 10 times per year).

     
  • At 6/21/2011 9:13 am, Blogger Pete Lead said…

    I read food blogs because the writers are like me - people who go to restaurants to enjoy the food and the atmosphere, and sometimes get excited by the interesting food or ingredients or techniques. I relate to them more than a 'professional reviewer' like Terry Durack - he probably knows everything about food, all the restaurants and the chefs etc, and his reviews are written from that point of view.

    Another thing I prefer about food blogs is the abundance of photos of actual food on the table. Most print reviews contain one photo. One! Print dudes, you're at a serious disadvantage.

    Finally, I'd rather read the opinions of three people who went to a restaurant once than one person who went three times.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 9:19 am, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    That sux that she took your words and completely miscontrue them. She obviously has very strong opinions about food bloggers and it does come across that she feels very threatened.
    We arent trying to take her job, nor are we competing in any way. Even before I started blogging, I would look at reviews of real people rather than food critics - heading to reviews on things like urband spoon or just going straight to a blog.
    I also highly resent the fact that she states we get paid. Ok some do, those are the lucky ones. People with newer or smaller type blogs and a limited audience, purely do it for the love of food and blogger or critic alike, isnt that what its all about?

     
  • At 6/21/2011 9:19 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ruff ruff. Rrrrruf. Grrrrrrr.
    *pant*


    [Disclaimer: This commenter received a free bone courtesy of Grab Your Fork.]

     
  • At 6/21/2011 10:05 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love your blog and often check out the places you find.What the journalist is missing out on is the wider context. The world is changing. In the 80's I studied cinematography. My eight year old took his ipod touch to an apple workshop and in a couple of days made a film. Not too different from our early student films. It is wonderful that all can contribute. Much wider views and opinions. I don't read actual newspapers anymore, I find things I like and then I subscribe to them. Some of these people have no training; it's real life and they are home cooks, shock horror. Ordinary people. Ordinary people such as these are changing the world. They are reporting on political injustices and people are listening, countries are changing. Power to the people.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 10:12 am, Anonymous Tim said…

    Just wanted to add my two cents.

    Firstly, Helen, I'm not sure that the quotes referring to you are worded as poorly as you think. I don't think it implies that you were unemployed, I think it implies that you didn't find a job in journalism, which you've noted is a factually correct statement.

    At the end of the day, she's reported your quote that you started blogging as an opportunity to engage with an audience and create an online portfolio of work - just as you said in your edited comments. The only thing missing is the reference to the blog that inspired you. I don't think that Elizabeth has wronged you in any way here.

    In relation to the rest of the article, it seems reasonably well balanced. We have:

    1) Journalist Ed Charles, noting that blogs will only report good things (which is generally true, and is both a positive and a negative aspect of blogging, typically). He later notes your (Helen's) success and implies your blog is one of "the best blogs".

    2) PR consultant Judi Hausmann, noting that blog coverage gets the message out very quickly (implying that traditional media coverage is slow).

    3) Newspaper writer Natascha Mirosch, noting factually that food blogging is growing, but then implies that bloggers have a negative agenda of some sort.

    4) PR consultant Elisabeth Drysdale, who has made the contentious point that "my dog can write a blog". The interesting thing to note is that she is (fairly) pointing out one bad behaviour of some food bloggers - the idea that a food blogger is somehow entitled to something that a lay person isn't. If people are willing to look back and remember all the discussion around Brad Lau (ladyironchef) in August last year, it's clear that people generally have the impression that some food bloggers do feel like they're entitled to things, just because they're a food blogger.

    (It's worth noting, of course, that newspaper reviewers can be as bad, but with a career's worth of experience, I suppose that they know how to avoid getting into such positions in the first place. I'd expect senior food bloggers to be the same.)

    Drysdale also makes the comment that some bloggers don't disclose their paid-for meals. Some commenters have questioned how she knows this - she's a PR consultant in the food industry! If she's placing freebies, and people don't disclose it, then by definition, she knows this.

    As for the threat posed by search engines picking up blogs, that's a valid one for anybody in print media. It's a factual statement - blogs are now starting to take up high ranking hits in search engines, and print media need to catch up. It's not saying that good blogs don't deserve to be there, it's that the game is changing, and the newspaper industry needs to fight back somehow. And this is true.

    5) Bloggers Claire Davie, Matt O'Donohue and Rebecca Varidel, talking about their experiences.

    6) A. A. Gill, saying that he would never read a food blog. Fair enough, whatever floats his boat. He says that bloggers are getting paid in food events - and this is true. If you're getting a free lunch of any sort, you are getting paid. The 'love of the food' tag really only apply to unpaid, out-of-pocket blogging.

    Overall, I can see where people are getting the feeling that it's a negative article, but I think those who do are focusing too much on the negative aspects of the article. Drysdale's comments might imply that food bloggers behave badly, but as Helen points out, they're comments that all bloggers (and writers generally) should heed. There are also the positives in there from writers like Ed Charles, who clearly identifies the need for bloggers to fill in the niche gaps that the newspaper writers don't get to.

    As Varidel says - I wish everybody could just get along.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 10:58 am, Blogger thanh7580 said…

    Helen, I feel like we are all having a case of deja vu. Didn't we have this exact same arguments last time when the previous article was published about bloggers? All the same comments then are relevant now.

    As to why people read blogs? For me personally, I think it's a bit voyeuristic. You get a glimpse into someone else life, through the food that they eat, either at restaurants, at home, or at gatherings. Although the posts will mainly be about food, the writers will inevitably write about other components of their lives, be it their friends, pets, their loves and hates etc. You slowly get to know the blog writer as it's a consistent person writing everything and you develop a rounded view of them, and feel like you know them. Through the use of comments and now Twitter, you can build a common bond through the topic of food.

    That's why I read blogs. I'm fascinated to see what others think.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 11:26 am, Anonymous Maureen said…

    The internet has become all about trust. We follow our favorite food bloggers and over time we learn to respect their opinions because they're real. My problem is with the bloggers who accept gifts and money to offer a flowery review that they don't agree with.

    If I try a product recommended by a favorite blogger and it's really crap, the trust factor for that blogger evaporates.

    Not surprised that this post has garnered so many comments. The idea that we blog because nobody has hired us is discourteous in the extreme.

    We blog about food, making friends along the way to expand, encourage and enlighten each other.

    Nobody can replace a professional restaurant critic if their views are respected as being knowledgeable and fair, regardless how many bloggers there are in competition.

    Finally, not every food blogger is a restaurant critic. I'm not because it doesn't interest me.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 11:32 am, OpenID minibites said…

    Amazing photos, amusing writings and sharing experiences - it's what food blogs are all about. Love your blog and great post above!

     
  • At 6/21/2011 11:34 am, Blogger Choux-Fleur said…

    Hi Helen,

    I first stumbled across your blog because I was researching what to eat for my first trip to singapore. Your blog was and is such a great read, really informative but also personal. I started reading your blog religiously, backtracking your previous posts, even going to sydney to eat at some of the places you've reviewed.

    I honestly never thought food reviewing was all that fun to read until I started to read your blog and I think the reason that I've branched out and started to read food review blogs is that I feel there is actually a person behind the blog. Even in reviewing a restaurant, tid bits of blogger's life is dotted throughout the entry, and their writing voices also giveaway bits of their personalities. In a way, it's like catching up with a friend via the internet. It's just fun.

    I don't have anything against traditional print reviews. They all have their merits too. I still read them – I just prefer blogs :)

     
  • At 6/21/2011 12:36 pm, Anonymous Jennifer said…

    Hi Helen!

    I'm a 21-year-old university student who first started reading your blog last year, when I moved from Perth to Canberra to study at ANU.

    Whenever my friends and I take weekend trips to Sydney we always check your blog to find out where the best places are to eat!

    I think you've helped to make Sydney restaurants more accessible to the general public; if I didn't read your blog then my friends and I wouldn't know where to eat and probably wouldn't even go to Sydney at all!

    So thank you for sharing your passion for good food with all of us, and I just wanted to say keep up the good work (excellent blog, excellent writing, excellent pictures - what more can I say?) and don't let any 'haters' get you down!

    All the best,
    Jennifer

    PS. Anyway, I don't think food bloggers should pay too much attention to such articles - clearly journalists just feel threatened because you're doing such a good job.

    PPS. And the negative comments written by food bloggers in response to Meryment's article really does more a disservice to the food blogging community more than anything else.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 2:25 pm, Blogger Janice, aka e_ting said…

    To be honest, I don't "get" print media's or old school journos' obsession with bloggers "overtaking" print, but then again, I just read a few comments in this post that say people prefer blogs over newspapers.

    I guess when you only have 24 hrs a day, what was newspaper-reading time might now have to be split between the paper, blogs, Angry Birds and Facebook, so from a newspaper's business/readership perspective, it seems like they should be just as worried about Angry Birds (or Smurfville or whatever's eating up people's time these days) as blogs.

    Following that logic, I think it's safe to say that blogs are a different genre of reading/entertainment. The nature of blogs - instant publishing made available for the individual - means that bloggers aren't under the same pressures as official print publications such as fact-checking, proofing and so on - it's up to the blogger, and that's the beauty of it.

    As you say, Helen, there are so many different types of blogs and bloggers. Some take "freebies", some don't - again, these are rules that the blogger sets up for him/herself. The only obligation I think bloggers should have is to disclose such transactions, to help the reader decide whether the blog is of interest to them. It's just a simple case of supply and demand.

    I just wish people would stop this whole print vs. blogs business. It's like radio (or the "wireless") vs. TV back in the day. There is no versus, they just all have their own lifecycles.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 4:09 pm, Anonymous Keely aka The Richest Girl in Bondi said…

    I've got to agree with Rebecca Varidel in that both traditional media and blogging have their own roles -- similar to other print v online arguments -- there are pros and cons for both.

    But I disagree with the idea "there are a few bloggers who are not transparent with their audience". Isn't the beauty of blogging that you aren't bound by representing a certain company or 'brand'? I believe most bloggers are more honest in their reflections as they don't need to abide by any bigger 'agendas'.

    As a true foodie I think the more information/reviews and banter about food -- the better!

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:19 pm, Anonymous mrbrown (via Twitter) said…

    Food critic pans food bloggers: http://mrbrwn.co/kW7yT2 A Sydney food blogger responds: http://mrbrwn.co/jd0ycR via @glennleems

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:20 pm, Anonymous birdcowfish (via Twitter) said…

    Its human nature that we like 2 have our say, just not everyone wants to hear it. #ruffledfeathers W'end Aust http://bit.ly/blogs_v_critics

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:21 pm, Anonymous eddiebrook (via Twitter) said…

    such a nice, considered writing style Helen.http://t.co/WvQaiWf You even featured in my final uni paper on food blogging!

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:22 pm, Anonymous e_ting (via Twitter) said…

    Why the obsession w the "print journalism vs. blogs" topic? Why not "Angry Birds vs TV" or "Facebook vs mahjong" then? http://goo.gl/ABJJd

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:23 pm, Anonymous salmonmornay (via Twitter) said…

    loving the response to everyones a critic @grabyourfork http://bit.ly/lB3OAH

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:28 pm, Anonymous stickifingers (via Twitter) said…

    @tomatom @fnbrilliant @grabyourfork I'm sure the @Australian is also enjoying all the free PR it's generated by dropping the bait #pageviews

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:29 pm, Anonymous tomatom (via Twitter) said…

    @stickifingers @fnbrilliant @grabyourfork @australian of course they are.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:30 pm, Anonymous RushinaMG (via Twitter) said…

    How wrong you can be about food bloggers!

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:31 pm, Anonymous ksters (via Twitter) said…

    are they picking on you as your are the more known blogger? geez..

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:32 pm, Anonymous Cafe_Nervosa (via Twitter) said…

    Articulate and genuine - additional comments from @grabyourfork on 'everyone's a critic' article

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:33 pm, Anonymous SimonThomsen (via Twitter) said…

    @grabyourfork @timeoutsydfood Good writers are also worth paying, if what's said in the story is correct.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:33 pm, Anonymous markbest (via Twitter) said…

    @SimonThomsen @grabyourfork @drycom In defense of Elisabeth: Ive read some of Winston's work & found it to be highly evocative

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:35 pm, Anonymous ieatblog said…

    @grabyourfork Keep up the good work Helen. Ur blog was the first food blog I read and inspired me to write my own better.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:36 pm, Anonymous timeoutsydfood (via Twitter) said…

    @SimonThomsen @grabyourfork They sure are - that's why we pay expenses.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:38 pm, Anonymous Rockahenry (via Twitter) said…

    I think I see a problem with a lot of overseas foodblogs, but I don't think those same problems are occurring here... Yet?...

    sorry that was rather vague of me! I meant that alot of the o/s blogs tend to feature alot of paid/ endorsed meals. not that its a bad thing, but it does begin to feel as though theyre blogging solely for some kind of celebrity status. of course everything i've said is all a personal opinion and one thats hard to express over the twitter charcter limit

     
  • At 6/21/2011 5:39 pm, Anonymous noblecuvee (via Twitter) said…

    @grabyourfork @SimonThomsen @markbest @drycom follow Winston on Facebook...a member since 2007. on.fb.me/jMpYa5

     
  • At 6/21/2011 6:06 pm, Anonymous The Hungry Bonvivant said…

    Anthony Bourdain (from a quote in a food blog)about food bloggers to a food blogger:

    "The more the better! I totally disagree with those still crying: ‘They’re not experts.’ When you’re talking about ‘is a restaurant good or not?’ or ‘where should I eat in Saigon?’ – if you read enough bloggers, you will arrive at a reasonable consensus. The old system, where you had lions of food criticism – that was totally corrupt and moribund, just one big clusterfuck of the same people at the same restaurants, using the same adjectives. In the old days, all [a restaurant] had to do was co-opt, coerce, bribe, blow or otherwise flatter a small group of powerful food writers."

     
  • At 6/21/2011 6:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    and that is why I LOVE ANTHONY BOURDAIN..

    all these journos who think of themselves as GOD and only think that their opinion is what matters.. first of all what is the difference of your tastebuds from a bloggers tastebuds? everyone has got different taste..

    may taste good for you may not taste good to me?... im an ex chef de partie, and think even food critics like you elizabeth or whoever you are.. think that you know all.. to write a negative generalisation of food bloggers is insecurity on your part..

    after graduating from journalism degree and if she struggled to find job in print must you put that on her face? lucky you are an old lady then jobs were easier and less competitive.. i bet you cant even spell without a spell check. just have a look at the last article you published.

    i've met helen.. she LOVES her food.. she doesnt get paid.. she doesnt Ask for freebies.. if she publishes anything from PR events she puts it on her blog so.. don't know why your article is NEGA.. build a bridge.. and get over it merryment..

     
  • At 6/21/2011 8:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    All I want to say is, Helen, my husband and I love your blog. You introduce us to eateries that sometimes we never thought to try. I dun get why it is such a fuss to distinguish the 'real' food critics and layman one. At the end, the food was served to public, not 'professional journalist'.

    And if your blog is not good enough or not genuine enough, your readers surely will be the hardest critics. We will just leave and not reading your blog anymore. It's the simple supply & demand theory. The reason you are popular coz you are actually sharing a good food blog.

    People who wrote this type of articles are so out of touch or 'sour grapes'

    Keep on the good work Helen!!

     
  • At 6/21/2011 9:01 pm, Anonymous Phillip Nom said…

    Each blog has a purpose, some more defined than others. We can choose whether to follow a blog religiously, or not at all. I read many food blogs as well as professional media. Some blogs I enjoy reading more than others. At the end of the day I support more information, choice and more food pr0n. Keep up the work Helen.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 9:24 pm, Anonymous Andrew said…

    LOL I thought News LTD was where the drop out journalists went. Seriously though there is a shit load of blogs but isn't that just giving people a chance to read something that might fit their style and tastes? I'll probably never read a blog that eats at fine dining restaurants as i'm probably never going to go there so I can't relate and get bored reading.
    Just the same as I don't like the snobbery that seems to be coming from some in the food review circuit and some of the pretensions attitudes whether realised or not that has become of the scene. But I can simply choose to ignore this.

    The internet means everyone has an opinion, and some blogs are very popular so possibly there is a jealousy aspect to some in the traditional forms of media?

    Haters gonna hate, keep doing what you love, alot of people appreciate it!

     
  • At 6/21/2011 11:08 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think most of the beef here from bloggers isn't so much what was written (because frankly they've heard it all before), but the fact that it was written AGAIN. Every few months, these type of articles are churned out like clockwork. As if the journos have nothing else to write about with a looming deadline and they fall back into the bloggers-have-no-cred routine.

    I believe bloggers are above criticism. Heck they place themselves in the public firing line all the time. It just gets mighty boring reading the same old shit.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 11:13 pm, Blogger Fourmotion.com said…

    Don't worry about all the comments, it's all good. we still care about food in a big way.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 11:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Writing media articles about Food Bloggers 101.

    Points to cover de rigeur;

    1) Bloggers are just commoners/plebians/bogans who think they know food but actually don't.

    2) Bloggers are not as qualified to offer an opinion like paid journalists or members of the food critic elite because they don't have trained taste buds, can't critique intelligently and are generally commoners/plebians/bogans.

    3) Food blogs are disrupting the world order and threatening print media and that is just not on. See point 2.

    4) Food bloggers are unscrupulous freebie-grabbing, PR-fondling, free-meal-chasing leeches who might not disclose everything in their blogging exploits. Of course this applies to only a small handful of bad apples but we're not concerned with the finer details.

    5) If you need more in your article, write about their quirky odd behaviour of letting their meals go cold, while they obsessively take photos with their giant-assed cameras. Sure it's all been written about before ad nauseum but heck, it's funny and never gets old. If you can fit in some anecdotes about flash photography and how it pisses off chefs or other patrons, even better.

    6) Back up your points by grabbing quotes from any food critics/journos/chefs/PR lackeys. Preferably laced with an anti-blogger sentiment. The more disgruntled and self-righteous your sources are, the better. Feel free to add snippets of quotes from bloggers if you want to sound more 'neutral'.

    7) It would be preferable to hammer home the main point; food bloggers are threatening old media and ruining the lives of impoverished journos/food critics. It may not be true but remember sensationalism is a good thing.

    8) Do not concern yourself with 'other' types of food blogs - recipe blogs, baking blogs, nutrition blogs, diet blogs etc. They're not as fun to write about. See point 7 - that's the gold mine right there.

     
  • At 6/21/2011 11:33 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oops just to clarify, I was meant to say, "I believe bloggers AREN'T above criticism..."

     
  • At 6/22/2011 1:40 pm, Anonymous Lau@corridor kitchen said…

    It's not a competition, I agree.

    But if it were, we should rememeber there are some areas where blogs have the edge over traditional media - they are more immediate and flexible, and as such they have their finger on the pulse.

    An example would be a food blogger profiling a cafe last December and that cafe cropping up in SMH only about a month ago. Who's to say food blogs don't become research material for food journalist? they should eb thanking us, not criticising us.

    And there is one thing I will always ALWAYS disagree with - that blogs are 'less transparent' and more prone to presenting advertorials as fact than traditonal print media. Open the travel section of any major paper- hardly unbiased reporting...

     
  • At 6/22/2011 2:23 pm, Anonymous Richard said…

    My friend put me onto this (he's a food blogger). Otherwise I confess it would have passed me by, don't read newspapers any more.

    I found the whole article pretty naff, but a couple of things really jumped out at me.

    Firstly, for that PR person to complain that food blogs are bumping traditional journalism down the rankings of Google et al was hilarious. How long ago was it that Murdock was moaning about Google news stealing content, and threatening to paywall the Oz? Not long ago at all!

    Secondly, accusing blogger of lacking transparency (and by continuation ethics) is a joke. I wonder how many bloggers hack people’s voicemail to get stories?

    Thirdly, to end with the comment that a proper journo won't bee caught dead eating industrial stock is pathetic. For one thing, I can barely imagine a more pretentious statement. For another, it's OK for them to eat meat reared as factory commodity, or veggies spayed with lord knows what, but not eat packet stock? oh please!

    Lastly, I’d say you sell blogs short when you say they are written by laypeople, and I must bring you up on the point you make about people reading blogs because they are not written by journalists. This is not why I read blogs. I only read a few food blogs, but I do so because they are superbly written by people far more passionate about food than any I’ve ever come across in the Sunday supplements.

    Bloggers of the world I salute you :)

     
  • At 6/22/2011 9:21 pm, Blogger The knife said…

    Great reading the comments here and I agree with anon, Anthony Bourdain is the best. I wrote a blog post which was sparked off by this post on the issue of food blogging and food journalism http://finelychopped-k.blogspot.com/2011/06/empire-strikes-back-organised-food.html

     
  • At 6/23/2011 12:07 am, Anonymous Hanson said…

    I think it is just a human condition to compare, to complain and be sour about things. Don't let it bug you too much =] I personally like what Matt O’Donohue said "Journalists and bloggers, they’re part of the same spectrum now." So there will be people who can't accept that easily.

    Please don't stop writing blogs. It is obvious many hours were spent on the layout, let alone the actual writing and eating.

    Keep at it Helen =]

    ps. thanks for the help with the restaurants I countlessly search for from your blog.

     
  • At 6/23/2011 3:20 am, Anonymous thecriticalcouple said…

    AA Gill was quoted in the Australian article saying how bad food blogs are, while at the same time saying that he has never read one. How then can he know their quality?

    And while it is true that he is a high profile restaurant critic here in the UK, it seems he rarely talks about restaurants or food in his food column. In a review of 21212 restaurant in Edinburgh, his column contained 1,277 words of which only around 220 were about the food. So what else do we get from the column.

    AA Gill tells us "I was up here to see my daughter Flora’s play at the festival. She was Jocasta in Oedipus. An awkward part on so many levels..." And so it goes on.

    Would it also be cynical to suggest that AA Gill, travelling to Edinburgh to see his daughter in a play, thought he'd write a quick restaurant review so getting not only a free meal but presumably his travel cost expensed also.

    He then of course complains about bloggers getting freebies. Shock horror that anyone other than him should get a freebie.

    The reason why bloggers are proving so successful is that too many journalists like AA Gill spend too little time talking about food and too much time talking about themselves. Foodies really don't care whether AA Gill's daughter Flora was a good Jocasta or not, they want to know about the restaurant.

    So why doesn't Gill tell us. He seems too transfixed on his own celebrity. Even Gill's quote in the article on not reading blogs "as if I had time" serves nothing more than to say "I'm too important and too busy to read blogs" so telling us something about him and nothing about food or blogs.

    The world may or may not need fewer blogs but I'm pretty sure that if we had a few less self important print media restaurant critics like Gill, few would mourn their passing.

     
  • At 6/23/2011 12:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm also a food blogger and I think the blatant attack on Elizabeth from bloggers is terribly unkind.

    A journalists job is to report on newsworthy topics which is clearly what she has done given the stir the article has created. I will also point out the quotes she has gathered are not her own and as untrue or unkind as they may be, there is no use in firing up over them. They're just opinions, something we as bloggers give with every post we write.

    I'm a blogger who still reads traditional media for research, food news and reviews. I wouldn't consider myself open minded or my posts to be well-rounded if I didn't. After all, didn't blogging stem from journalism in the first place?

    @myffyrigby puts it perfectly "Instead of being outraged, how about just concentrating on making your craft bullet proof? That goes for print and online."

    Let's work hard at what we do so we aren't judged and criticised, I don't want to be a part of a group who bullies.

    On another note I have never been payed to eat at a restaurant or have I been rewarded for having a meal. Just saying.

     
  • At 6/23/2011 1:52 pm, Blogger shaz said…

    Hey Helen,

    That article really feels like the same regurgitated beat-up. I read Elizabeth's response, she may not be bitter and twisted in real life, but what I'd like to know is how old she is? New media does not have to be the enemy of old media, just build a bridge already. (Just so you know, I'm just shy of my fourth decade, and I used to work in a "real-life" newsroom a long,long time ago).

    By the way, have you seen this response by another blogger?

    Cheers :)

     
  • At 6/23/2011 2:35 pm, Anonymous Franz Scheurer said…

    Your sentence: "Comparing bloggers to industry journalists misses the whole point of the blogging phenomenon - people read blogs because they're not written by journalists"says it all, and succinctly so.
    Cheers
    Franz Scheurer
    Australian Gourmet Pages

     
  • At 6/23/2011 5:52 pm, Anonymous msgourmetchick (via Twitter) said…

    @kristainchicago good to see you last night. Here's a post by one of the blogs mentioned in that oz article: http://bit.ly/ixPU6N

     
  • At 6/23/2011 5:52 pm, Anonymous CriticalCouple (via Twitter) said…

    seem to be having an anti AAGill day today following his comments in The Australian.Left comment on grabyourfork's blog http://bit.ly/loiKPU

     
  • At 6/23/2011 5:53 pm, Anonymous ElegSufficiency (via Twitter) said…

    Lively debate and a hundred-plus comments about food journalists v. food bloggers on Grab Your Fork> http://bit.ly/ixPU6N

     
  • At 6/23/2011 5:53 pm, Anonymous ToastNZ (via Twitter) said…

    An Australian perspective. RT @grabyourfork Everyone's a Critic | Grab Your Fork: A Sydney food blog http://bit.ly/iM3QPh

     
  • At 6/23/2011 5:56 pm, Anonymous AllSugarSpice (via Twitter) said…

    A post in response to 'Everyone's a critic' by @grabyourfork who was interviewed for that particular article. http://tinyurl.com/5vldn6u

     
  • At 6/24/2011 12:49 am, Anonymous christopher said…

    Just read the text! They completely put all blog owners in one basket and didn't understand that most blog writers prob do it to keep an eye on their private culinary journey. Its also frightful that they put up fake information about you failing to secure a job too!

     
  • At 6/24/2011 12:53 am, Anonymous christopherwelling said…

    Great reading the comments here and I'm in agreement with anon, Anthony Bourdain is the very best.

    I wrote a blog article which was sparked off by this post on the issue of food blogging and food journalism.

     
  • At 6/24/2011 5:03 am, Anonymous Ally said…

    Great post, Helen. Man - I'm also in two minds about this.I started writing a food blog because it was a way to write and put my words out there. I'm not a failed journalist (although I do have a writing degree), I'm not trying to nudge in on professional critics' jobs (don't flatter yourself). I always disclose on my blog whether I got something for free.

    "My dog could write a blog" < Far out that's a stupid thing to say. Not 100% of blogs are fantastic. Not 100% of books are fantastic. Not 100% of paintings, films, etc. are fantastic. Blogs are like anything - anyone can write, but not everyone can write well.

    Jesus - an average food blog gets, what, 2000 hits a month? A newspaper gets how many subscribers?? Keep your pants on and leave us to blog in peace.

     
  • At 6/24/2011 8:54 am, Anonymous Rei said…

    I read blogs for a number of reasons - content, casual tone, convenience, searchability, photos that literally pop out of the monitor and make your mouth water - at least twice a week. I have not looked at a newspaper restaurant review for over a year.

    A newspaper may have far more subscribers, but (assuming that all the subscribers are actually reading every article) the level of involvement is incomparable.

     
  • At 6/24/2011 9:00 am, Anonymous Rei said…

    Also wanted to add: anyone who's ever worked in PR/journalism or watched media watch will know that the 'sometimes food bloggers don't disclose when they've received a free meal' argument is naive at best and malicious at worst - when do journalists ever disclose that their article is a rehashed press release?

     
  • At 6/24/2011 10:58 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Summertime and the living is easy....not so, if you live in Sydney".
    Food Blog December 9, 2010

    "Summertime and the living is easy. At least for those in Avalon".
    SMH January 26, 2011

    coincidence, I think not!

     
  • At 6/25/2011 9:35 pm, Blogger Sydney Shop Girl said…

    Helen,

    Great post and thanks for supporting and encouraging all food bloggers out there.

    I like that you put the point across that there are all kinds of food blogs and that we're not all setting out to be restaurant critics or to get freebies.

    My blog isn't purely about food, it's about my life but food plays a rather large role in it. My aim is to just share my adventures and opinions with whoever takes the time to find my blog.

    One of the nicest things that has happened to me because of my food blogging is to have the owners of restaurants I've reviewed support my blog and be positive about what I'm doing.

    Love your work Helen.

    SSG xxx

    Sydney Shop Girl blog

     
  • At 6/26/2011 12:53 pm, Anonymous PhilD said…

    One thing a lot of people miss in the rejection of the then they are criticism of "freebies" is that for a lot of people blogs are different. But if bloggers are accepting freebies for good reviews if feels like they are starting to become a bit like mainstream media which is a shame.

    I like blogs where passionate people discuss the food they find and enjoy, it isn't the same if I feel there is a PR company positioning a product. That what I expect from poor journalism and newspapers that fill space with advertorial reviews. As more and more bloggers move in this direction they (and the genre) lose the independence that gives drives the value of the blog. Unfortunately this then tarnishes the good with the bad, and whilst I admire Helen's blog I am starting to discount it because her inner circle of fellow bloggers seem to be the prominent beneficiaries of freebies. As a result a good blog gets tarnished by association.

    The other big problem with freebies is that bloggers who take them tend to be neutral at best, thus offering little criticism of the product/restaurant. It's a natural instinct, you don't want to bite the hand that feeds you. I can't imagine a PR agent lasting long if they kept including highly critical bloggers in their invite lists, bloggers are smart, they understand that, as a result anodyne reviews.

    However, this isn't the same for the press. A PR who didn't invite, or couldn't get the SMH, Australian, Time Out etc to an event/launch wouldn't have a long career. It doesn't matter that Durack, Greenwood, Lethlean, Nourse etc are critical because they need to be invited. Imagine telling a hot new talented chef that you are not inviting the big reviewers because they may not be positive about his new restaurant. And because of this they are free to criticise, no matter how bad their last review has been they will still be top of the invite list. I don't believe the same can be said of any blogger (yet) and it will be interesting to see if it becomes true; most bloggers don't get paid to write so there is a really big risk in cutting off this opportunity to eat by turning critical.

    And does the traditional media still matter? Thee is lots of proof it does; take Gastro Park for example, try booking a table after Durack gave them a 16/20 on opening - on the day of the review their phone started ringing off the hook and it hasn't stopped. No blogger I know has that effect.

     
  • At 6/26/2011 1:22 pm, Blogger Another Outspoken Female said…

    Just like the Chilean ashcloud this issue just won't go away, will it? I had the privilege at talking at Eat Drink Blog last year about why I blog. Each one of us that talked that day (including the audience) had different reasons for becoming food bloggers and approached the art/hobby/vocation in different ways. But even in the year or so from Eat Drink Blog I've observed the magnification of some trends.

    There are more new food blogs doing reviews, than any other blog niches. I'm a "blog as cooks journal" blogger and somedays I wonder if anyone cooks anything any more.

    Food bloggers are increasingly being sought out by PR companies to spruik their clients (via a standard press release or invite to a freebie). I average 10-15 a month and I'm not high profile, have my email address on my blog or review restaurants.

    Bloggers are divided on the issue of freebies: some actively seek them, some don't want them, others think they're the devils spawn. There's no right or wrong here, just difference.

    The issue of transparency is a necessary one. I have to say that very few food bloggers do transparency well (ie disclose whether they've received goods or services for free with the expectation they'll mention it in social media). Helen, yours is one of the exceptions. You attribute appropriately. Regarding the MPW experience, from the other bloggers that I've read who attended, you were the only one to say you were a guest of the PR company and named them. While some implied they'd been "invited", did anyone else explicitly and appropriate attribute like you did?

    An increasing majority of food bloggers are on twitter. How often do you see this transparency when reduced to an 140 character tweet? We need a hashtag that denotes a freebie experience that we are tweeting about.

    As much as I like to point out some of the PR people that contact me are utter idiots (as in Hello, I love your blog, I'd like to invite you to a cheese masterclass" um did you notice I'm dairy intolerent?) the Public Relations Species is not always dumb, some have evolved into very clever genus who totally get social media. Social media has been al boon for viral marketing. Hello Twitter! Hello Facebook! Hello Instagram! Even better than when they used to pay pretty young girls to chat up boys in nightclubs and give them free cigarettes.

    Not all journalists are evil and ignorant. But I suspect many are getting concerned at a time when traditional media is slashing and burning staff. The problem is we bloggers do what they do for free. We potentially devalue them.

    Yes journalists do you foodbloggers for inspiration and ask direct questions on twitter for new leads (what's your favourite food website etc). Not that they'd attribute their sources, it's "research" :)

    Publishers have been getting in on the act too. I was approached by a respected local publisher to see if I'd like to write 30 mini reviews of bars and restaurants. They didn't pay for food or drink, had a deadline of a month and the total amount per piece barely paid expenses let alone anything near award rates per word. But other bloggers put up their hand and said yes please. It made me so glad that I don't derive primary income as a freelancer.

    What do you think?

     
  • At 6/26/2011 2:23 pm, Anonymous PhilD said…

    I like reading blogs because they are different and represent a very personal, often passionate opinion that helps me choose good places to eat. Unfortunately that used to be true but now I have stopped reading them so much and rely on them less and less; the reason is the curse of the freebie. At the start blogs were PR free zones and you read great-informed criticism about food. You learned from passionate people who had researched, explored and sampled but now there is always a suspicion there is a PR agent behind it.

    OK so what, it’s just the same for the press. But that is the point, blogs are not meant to be like the press. What is the point of a blog if it is really just another corporate vehicle to promote products? It is no longer a passion with integrity it instead becomes a conscious, deliberate vehicle to access and enjoy freebies.

    But what’s the problem with that? For me the problem is it means we see lots of anodyne blogs that don’t give a true view or opinion. Bloggers are smart enough not to bite the hand that feeds them. They know they won’t stay on the PR agent’s lists for long if they are independently minded and offer real opinions. Instead it is safer if they regurgitate the PR spiel. Just think of how tricky it would be if a PR agent had to explain to their client that the tame bloggers had gone feral and offered real opinions.

    It is true that some press is much the same, the hackneyed advertorial, the rewritten press release etc etc. But, I would argue the quality media is different. A PR agent can’t afford not to invite a Durack, Greenwood, Nourse, Lethlean etc. A PR agents worth will be assessed on whether they can get these critics through the door, not whether they can fill a room full of bloggers. And if Durack etc al slam a restaurant or don’t write anything up that doesn’t matter because they don’t drop of the invite list. And that is why their opinion stays independent, that is why they are objectively critical, and that is why bloggers are not. Bloggers need to stay in favour to get fed.

    It will be interesting to see if any blogger jumps this divide, my sense is they won’t until they start to get paid for their work. In essence they jump the divide by going to the side of paid journalists, much like Helen is doing, and then are they bloggers or are they journalists with blogs?

    Does the confession or declaration absolve a blogger from being criticised, if a blogger is open is it all OK? Obviously it is on one dimension, it is honest and forthright and allows the reader to allow for bias. And that is fine as far as it goes, but I would pose the question: doesn’t it undermine the whole point of a blog, which is meant to be about a personal opinion? Maybe I am naïve to think this and should just accept that if a blogger can get lots of free staff then good for them. Yes, I know it is a free world and I don’t need to read them. So I don’t if I see that is what they do, but as it is a free world I can critique.

    Of course not all bloggers do this, a few proudly pay their way, a few have inheritances that allow them to indulge their passion, but unfortunately there are many that do take freebies. And I am afraid that whilst I admire your blog Helen I can’t help thinking that the bloggers you associate with are tarnishing your reputation as many of them are the kings and queens of the freebie.

    Is the press more powerful than blogs? I am afraid to say it is. Try to book a table at Gastro Park (in Sydney), soon after opening there new restaurant Durack gave them 16/20 and a glowing review. That morning the phone started ringing and it hasn’t stopped. I don’t believe any blogger yet has that reach, and if the tarnishing effect of freebies continues I suspect they never will.

     
  • At 6/27/2011 12:03 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Unfortunately this then tarnishes the good with the bad, and whilst I admire Helen's blog I am starting to discount it because her inner circle of fellow bloggers seem to be the prominent beneficiaries of freebies. As a result a good blog gets tarnished by association".

    It isn't just Helen's circle of fellow bloggers that are the beneficiaries of freebies, she does accept them as well.

     
  • At 6/28/2011 1:12 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One thing that is noticeable (in Sydney anyway) is that it's always the SAME group of food bloggers that flog products, events and travel. Eventually it all becomes a blur and posts start to get boring and sound the same.

    "And I am afraid that whilst I admire your blog Helen I can’t help thinking that the bloggers you associate with are tarnishing your reputation as many of them are the kings and queens of the freebie."

    I'm curious PhilD as to who you are referring to specifically as kings and queens of the freebie? Personally I find it saddening. There's one blog in particular that I use to enjoy back in the day but now she flogs 95% of the time. No joke, she barely writes anymore (since she started a family I think) but when she does, it's always about a free dinner or free product and it's written like a press release anyway. Then of course there is a certain blog who has pretty much sold her soul to the PR devil but has gone on to become the biggest blog in Australia. Good on her I suppose but I gag in sadness.

     
  • At 7/01/2011 5:09 am, Anonymous Ozmo said…

    i think we are at the crossroads, where traditional processes of newspapers with some internet services compete with individuals who offer and are given the opportunity to comment via personal blog.For the computer savvy there are millions of food recipes to try like there are lots of bloggers to read. Why do i read them,doesn't cost me anything, it is stimulating,very enjoyable, its involvement via sharing and comments with peeps of similiar interests,ie food and wine, and don't we all love it.The fact that pr peeps see bloggers as important simply testifies that it is a growing medium for them to exploit. In the end its all about bums on seats in food outlets worldwide not just your own local.I will be using lili's, of pikelet and pie blog, food map of hanoi in november not buying a critics book of dining in hanoi.Travel and food blogs are exciting and give you heaps of ideas without going via traditional professional services.It's a change in the paradigm,a rip in the fabric of food and travel space.Keep up the good work

     
  • At 9/07/2011 12:29 am, Blogger Robertjuankennard said…

    huuuuuge debate. geez louise. And to think the horn of Africa has nearly twenty million people in dire need of the one thing we keep squabbling about reviewing.

     
  • At 2/01/2012 11:26 am, Blogger K-bobo said…

    This article is so insulting to food bloggers! It's also frankly an insane generalisation! Not all food bloggers even review restaurants and it's ridiculous to assume that all food bloggers "get paid" to write their reviews! I'm sure there are very few blogs who get free meals at restaurants when they review it. Most bloggers are going in there to have lunch or dinner with friends and they review their experience - this is more enlightening to the everyday person than a food critic who has been given special consideration by the restaurant. If a restaurant knows a food critic is coming they will send out their best dish with no errors and make sure the service is impeccable. On the other hand if a food blogger is having lunch or dinner there then the restaurant doesn't know who they are and thus they get treated as an ordinary customer would - THAT'S why blogger's food reviews are of more interest to the every day person.

    It's also ridiculous to assume that every food blogger has the same background and story. They paint the food blogger as somebody who has a back ground in writing but couldn't find work without turning to blogging, so they do so in order to make a niche for themselves when in fact they don't really know anything about food or reviewing. That's just bullshit. Let me tell you my story: I have no training in writing or journalism above basic writing skills required for uni, blogging is a hobby to me as I work full time as a Doctor of Chinese Medicine. I don't review restaurants in my blog. However, I am a really good vegan cook and I blog because I love to share my vegan food with everyone. I don't receive any financial (or other)gain for doing so, I don't try and push my way into restaurants by claiming I'm a blogger and I don't ever foresee myself making money out of blogging. I do it for love of food and the joy of knowing that people cook and enjoy my recipes. Every blogger's story is different and I doubt very much that there are many who fit the stereotype described in this article.

     
  • At 10/26/2012 10:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It seems strange to "attack" other people in the same industry just because they don't work for a major publisher or newspaper. I really enjoy reading blogs and probably listen to them more than generally reviews and articles in the newspaper. I find it to be a more interactive and personal approach to a review. I have just started my own coffee/food blog and its quite challenging. Although I write and document about what I am interested in, you also have to engage the readers. I completely agree with you I think the more people blogging the better!

     
  • At 10/26/2012 10:40 am, Blogger nickyd1990 said…

    It seems strange to "attack" other people in the same industry just because they don't work for a major publisher or newspaper. I really enjoy reading blogs and probably listen to them more than generally reviews and articles in the newspaper. I find it to be a more interactive and personal approach to a review. I have just started my own coffee/food blog and its quite challenging. Although I write and document about what I am interested in, you also have to engage the readers. I completely agree with you I think the more people blogging the better!

     

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