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Sampler Platter: The food blogging ethics edition


In conjunction with today's food blogging ethics story, here's a roundup of recent articles related to blogging and food writing.

  • When are food bloggers just cadging free meals? Time Out London
  • Blogola: The Federal Trade Commision wants bloggers to disclose when they've been wooed with cash or freebies from companies they cover. Business Week
  • Will you subscribe to the Food Blog Code of Ethics? Eating L.A. fans the flames of debate.
  • Bloggers, beware: What you write can get you sued. Wall Street Journal
  • If you can chew, swallow and type, you're ready to join the legion of online restaurant reviewers. Washington Post
  • The anonymous restaurant critic: Is it even possible anymore? Bits & Bites

-- Elina Shatkin

Photo: L'Osservatore Romano / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (4)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I would absolutely subscribe to a code of ethics.

Our thoughts are very public and impactful by being on the Internet. When I think about the surprising and varied ways people have come across my blog - whether through some funny google search term or from a link on a Facebook newsfeed or by word of mouth or whatever, and even the different countries people are reading my blog from, it's a constant reminder that I'm not just talking to myself. And honestly, it's more fun not talking to myself.

So I can't be reckless and spout off about whatever I want however I want. There are businesses and feelings and lives at stake! And personally, negative talk has no place in my blog since I focus on happy things only. :) You know what they say about sticking a pencil in your mouth to force a smile and you'll start to feel authentically happy from it? Try writing positively instead of negatively. It works.

The zombie of a stupid idea that food bloggers need a code of ethics need to die. Now! Why? See http://bit.ly/iyr2O and http://bit.ly/4YcNb.

Tying blog ethics to the Eater LA fiasco misses the point. Eater's actions were a reporting issue, not a blog issue. One should never report unverified, anomyous information as fact using any vehicle, on or off 'net. The problem was not the medium, it was the message. Typical that an MSM publication and its web site chose to focus on the blog aspect of the story. MSM complaining about use of anonymous sources by an online publication is a glaring example of someone in a glass house throwing stones.

I guess you could say that some bloggers or even Yelpers are the new mafia. "You do something good for me and I'll do something good for you. Capiche?"

This behavior isn't helped by the fact that some PR people have admitted to me that bloggers tend to not be as critical when their meal is comped.

I think the answer here is for a blogger to just disclose when a meal is comped as well as reiterate that our experience is our own, staying away from sweeping statements. Hmm, now I'm wondering if I have made any sweeping statements.

Rules of the Plate – Bloggers

I take blogging very seriously. It is just a hobby and I don’t make a cent from doing it. However, I am well aware that yelp, chowhound, citysearch and those with personal blog sites can significantly hurt a restaurant business. I am all for free speech, but I think our comments and reactions should be written responsibly. A friend of mine wrote the following:

Rules of the Plate.
Thoughts for Bloggers Who Write about Restaurants

1. Understand that a restaurant is a serious business for the owners. It is not fun, it is not a hobby…chefs, and everyone from the front of the house to the back of the house have their lives on the line. Negative comments on the web especially hurt when they are from people who don’t know anything about the business, or worse, have an ax to grind.

2. Accuracy:
Knowledge, knowledge, knowledge: For example, your first time tasting sweetbreads does not make you an expert on sweetbread preparation. Experience, knowledge, and awareness are vital.

3. Objectivity:
If you personally don’t care for a dish, you have a responsibility to say that it wasn’t to your liking, but not that it was executed poorly. If you don’t know proper execution of a dish, you can’t comment that it was executed poorly. If you don’t like something, is it because the preparation is “wrong” or is it an ingredient, group of ingredients or combination of ingredients or cooking technique that doesn’t work for you? If you know enough to make a professional assessment of the chef as a professional fine, but otherwise think before you write and edit so you can defend your position intelligently.

4. Understand service in a restaurant.
Don’t ever go to a quality restaurant without a reservation. Always arrive on time. Understand the process of seating and the difficulties a restaurant can have getting you seated at your exact time because someone else is holding over at the table that is assigned to you. Never “no show”…don’t make three or more reservations around town and then decide at the last minute where you are going and leave the other restaurants hanging. This really hurts the restaurant’s business.

5. The Chef’s Goal and Your Reactions:
Cuisine is both an art as well as science. Understanding the goal of a chef will help you appreciate his cuisine and give perspective to your reactions.

6. Quality restaurants are fragile beings–if you like dining in nice places being well served, take the time to write intelligently and considerately about the places and people who are trying to serve you. You will be the real beneficiary.

This is from my site here:


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