These worlds collide frequently: I get to practice writing when I blog, which helps my ability to communicate with clients. Sometimes I'll meet other communications professionals and they find out I have a food blog. As a result, I may get pitched as a media outlet for their clients, which is fun.
I practice disclosure on this blog so there's no funny business about products, venues and services that are represented. If you have concerns or questions, please visit my blogging code and restaurant review criteria and feel free to leave comments.Earlier this week, on Thursday afternoon, something happened in Toronto that a couple of friends flagged for me. (Thanks to Kim and Bryan for pointing it out.)
Claudio Aprile, who is the owner of gastronomie-heavy Colborne Lane and the newly-opened Origin, wrote a snarky post on his Origin blog about food bloggers. The original post has since been deleted. Here is what is said:
A short message to all people that have or plan on coming to Origin with huge zoom lenses and flashes that induce seizures, the food critics and wannabe food critics who end up just being lonely bloggers in front of their Mac at 3 a.m.
Do your research before you arrive. Have an open mind.
Understand the concept and accept the fact that Origin is not Colborne Lane.
If you can do a better job than me and my staff then why aren’t you doing it?
The Toronto Life Daily Dish blog picked up the story immediately, as has been their gossipy (and effective) custom of late, with the rather provocative title, 'Claudio Aprile sticks it to food bloggers.'
Shortly thereafter, the debate spilled onto Twitter with Suresh Doss of Spotlight Toronto and Brock Shepard of The Burger Bar taking opposing views. (It should be noted that Brock Shepard's initials are BS. Just kidding!)
Read the comments from bottom-to-top to see the chronology:
Shepard mentions that 'real' journalists call before coming, which I take issue with.
No they don't.
That's the whole point of neutral, objective reviews: you're not supposed to know the journalist is coming. Shepard ultimately calls for some ethical standards in reviewing, which I also feel lukewarm about. Sites like Yelp are fueled by real people. There's no code - they can have a variety of opinions, biased or otherwise and that's that.
Similarly, blogging is a form of citizen journalism. With certain exceptions, people do it out of passion/ interest and others relate to these blogs for exactly these reasons: they are real opinions by real people, not experts.
Ultimately, I think it's kind of strange that Claudio Aprile or Brock Shepard would publicly criticize the food blogging community in Toronto.
Maybe it's the communicator in me (and maybe you can call me opportunistic), but this could be a pretty influential group of brand ambassadors, no? If I were a restauranteur, I may very well have mixed feelings about bloggers/ citizen journalists, but, would I call them out? HELL no! That's not good business.
And by the by, I'll be going to Origin in the next couple of months with a giant chip on my shoulder. Silly Aprile is making things harder on himself than he needs to. Don't bite the hand that feeds.