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#1127993 Food blogger ethics

Posted by DHL on 31 January 2011 - 04:38 PM in General food and drink discussion

Jason doesn't need me to defend him, but singling him out for attack when the practices you describe (whether he has engaged in them or not) have been so widespread as to require action by the FTC sends me the strong signal that some personal animosity is at work.

Why don't we discuss the topic itself?


Apparently Perlow does need defending, as Hollywood's edits of my comments seems to indicate.



#1127859 Food blogger ethics

Posted by DHL on 29 January 2011 - 03:59 AM in General food and drink discussion


Actually, it's not an honor system any more - in theory at least. It's obligatory (the problem is enforcement).

FTC

continued

In a nutshell: amateurs must play by the same rules as professionals.


Wilfrid, the FTC regulations/guidelines cover disclosure for advertisers on blogs. I derive no income from my blog and I have no advertisers.


The issue isn't "income," although one could argue that a comped meal is just like cash. The issue is whether a blogger who does not reveal comps is being honest with his readers. My contention, as you well know, is that it is not.



#1127835 Food blogger ethics

Posted by DHL on 28 January 2011 - 11:11 PM in General food and drink discussion


It would not be a bad thing. However, my question is -- to what end? Do you think this "full disclosure of comps" is the answer? Do you think that solves all of the issues we are talking about? My point was that those who want to will be spending a great deal of time "accounting" and keeping score, and in a sense, it might accomplish nothing. But, again, no it wouldn't be a bad thing.

What about barter? Soft-dollars? Advertising? More? You show me a guy who gets zero in comps and I'll show you a hundred other ways he can benefit. Like I said before, where does it end? No right or wrong answer as far as I am concerned.

It's a simple question of moral nous. If you have a relationship with a restaurateur or receive some material gain from him/her that might be perceived as resulting in a conflict of interest, you reveal it. It really is not difficult for anyone other than Perlow and Shaw.


A simple, "I know the owner and he has comped me on occasion." Or, "we were recognized so our experience might not be typical." Or, "the chef sent out some appetizers for us to try because he knows who I am."



#1127711 Food blogger ethics

Posted by DHL on 28 January 2011 - 02:44 AM in General food and drink discussion



Note, I'm not addressing the hypocrisy angle. If you're soliciting / getting free meals or free courses etc I feel you should mention them. Regardless of whether you think you're above being influenced. That's pretty basic, as I see it.


Very basic, RP.

Obviously, though, there's one blogger here that disagrees with you... In his rant above he said that folks that feel this way can "shove a stick up your ass".


I stand by my comments. Over the years, I've learned that I can decide whether a person's comments stand the test of time, and whether they agree with my tastes. In that sense, accepting / soliciting freebies etc is a relatively small part of may assessment for somebody with a decent docket of results over time. It doesn't really affect my judgment if I'm already in agreement with the person's general tastes and I'm properly calibrated with them.

But, for somebody where that calibration doesn't exist, a new blogger / shill, etc, unreported or solicited freebies would constitute a much bigger part of my judgment.

And, we all have our petty or major squabbles with people on this board in the past. I'm willing to set some matters aside, and judge people on their recent production.

As a manager over the years, I've found that any other strategy would probably drive me nuts. We all have our histories. They inform my outlook, but they shouldn't drive my decision making. That's just my opinion, I'm sure others have other points of view.


This is where reasonable people can disagree. You feel that accepting or soliciting free food and drink is not necessarily a bad thing when judged against the body of work of a reviewer. I think that anyone who claims to be impartial and doesn't reveal to his readers any free food or drink, or any treatment that the typical diner wouldn't get is being dishonest and self-serving. It is the appearance of impropriety that is damning; whether something in fact improper occurred is immaterial.



#1127702 Food blogger ethics

Posted by DHL on 27 January 2011 - 11:39 PM in General food and drink discussion


During the time he's written Off the Broiler Jason has built a reputation for integrity.

Posted Image


Don't forget humility.



#1127626 Food blogger ethics

Posted by DHL on 27 January 2011 - 01:08 PM in General food and drink discussion


I trust Marauder implicitly.

During the time he's written Off the Broiler Jason has built a reputation for integrity. I have some quibbles with him now and then but overall, I trust him too.


It is also within your right to comment on my blog if you feel I've made an error or a questionable or unfair judgement. I've also with reader feedback corrected mistakes and have pointed them out. I do this on Off The Broiler as well as on my tech blog at ZDNet. That's sort of the whole point of this New Media/Blogging thing, to have reader interaction.


Bullshit. You don't publish all of the comments.



#1127595 Food blogger ethics

Posted by DHL on 26 January 2011 - 10:36 PM in General food and drink discussion



Well, also, marauder, many bloggers take themselves too seriously, and are humorless. Even a lousy dish can look great in a photo, especially if you are hungry.

Tommy's quote here was right on, IMHO. Lots of bloggers are just in it for the comped food invites and are really pawns of the resto doling out the food. How can they write an objective review of a food orgy? It also gives the bloggers a false sense of importance. I thought Tommy was absolutely right.

And, as I've said before, Tommy's blog is very refreshing because there's a lot more text than photos, all comments get posted, and most importantly he doesn't take himself too seriously, so it's very refreshing.


Even though he personally eats at the trough? That is the part where I call bullshit. If I wanted to out myself, which in close to 4-5 years of posting here I've purposely chosen not to do, I could easily list place, relative date and situation that Tommy has eaten free food and ultimately gone to the pages of his blog and wrote positively about the experience. My point in not whether Tommy brings a refreshing style to his blog or even whether or not he is a "good" or "bad" guy. Generally, he is a GREAT guy. Generally, his blog is quite funny. Generally, his blog is incredibly refreshing and self effacing. It just crosses the line IN THIS INSTANCE, when he talks of people being influenced, directly or indirectly, because they don't "pay." Has he disclosed all comps, all the time? Does he take a personal "liking" to a restaurant or chef and give them treatment in his blog that Cheeseburger in Paradise in Wayne(as an example) doesn't get? This is an instance of pot meeting kettle. Now, it may have been a throw away line that doesn't merit him being crucified. However, I think it was somewhere in between that and a general poke in the eye of the more established/better known bloggers. Sort of a "look at me" I'm going to approach this from a "more pure" perspective, because I picked up the entire tab myself.



There's a conundrum, if ever there was one.

I generally agree with Tommy's tastes, based on 10 years of following them, all the way back to Rosie's FoodBytes circa 2000. So, based on my experience, I think I'd have to conclude that he writes honestly about places he likes (regardless of whether he was comp'd) and if he doesn't like a place, I probably won't either.

That's generally NOT been my experience with some other newspaper reviewers, bloggers, shills, and other folks. I've had great meals in places some people hated (Karla Cook is a contrarian indicator for me), and been appalled by some places people raved about.

Note, I'm not addressing the hypocrisy angle. If you're soliciting / getting free meals or free courses etc I feel you should mention them. Regardless of whether you think you're above being influenced. That's pretty basic, as I see it.


I agree with Rail Paul about the quality of tommy:eats restaurant comments. I started reading the blog probably soon after it went live, although that was the first time I read anything he wrote. My three + years of experience has shown me that his blog is the most accurate predictor of quality in a restaurant among all of the local blogs.

As for the ad hominem remarks by a few other commenters here? I think that those comments are inappropriate, can't be verified, and strongly suggest ulterior motives.