LA Times of Food Blogging Ethics
- sku Jul 8, 2009 10:54 AM
This story arose from an unattributed tipster post on the food blog EaterLA, which the site later apologized for. It's been big news in the LA food blogging world.
The article reinforced for me the excellent judgment that CH shows in a) not allowing reports of bugs or other types of foreign objects (or what have you) in food and b) the decision not to allow reports from posters who attend "friends and family" night, comped dinners at new restaurants.
Interesting topic. Chowhound's Chowpatty was featured pretty prominantly for being on the right side of the ethics issue :-)
What EaterLA did was clearly wrong. Their article didn't criticize the restaurant's food, they attacked its clenliness and stated that it was misrepresenting the food it served; it is probable that several of these allegations, if true, would have constituted legal violations. The source they cited was a "tipster" and they apparently made no effort to verify the allegations before printing them. Wrong and just plain dumb on all counts.
However, as a food blogger, I chafe at the idea of a Food Blogging Code of Ethics. The codes that I've seen so far are modeled on print journalism practices and just don't work for the world of amateur bloggers who, for the most part, have other jobs and do this as a hobby. I am not a journalist and don't pretend to be. My blog is more of an extension of a Chowhound post, a tip to my friends and anyone else who cares to listen about a good place to eat or a good bottle to drink. Since I pay my own way, I don't always visit a place multiple times before blogging, especially if it's an expensive place, and I reserve the right to post about a single dish or even a drink that I enjoyed. I have no desire to be confined by the rules that have rendered formal restaurant reviews largely obsolete.
There are some things that are just common sense. You don't publish unfounded allegations and you don't accept free meals, or if you do, you disclose them, along with any other biases. I take these very seriously as they impact your credibility and as a blogger without your name attached to a "real" publication, that's all you have. Other than that, I'm not ready for codes or for anyone following me around with a rule book.