11 comments on “A Question for Food Bloggers

  1. Are you even eligible? I’m curious about the comment that the AFJ is courting food bloggers, because as I read the following eligibility requirements, you couldn’t even qualify to be an associate member. I have taught food writing and written a little bit for publication but concluded that I wasn’t eligible because I work for an educational institution and do most of my food writing for free.

    Eligibility
    Because of the specific focus of AFJ, membership is limited. Bylaws outline rules for membership.
    Active members are those persons employed or contracted in positions as reporters, writers or editors by a legitimate news or media organization that is supported by advertising and/or paid subscriptions and who spend not less than fifty percent (50%) of their time on food news.
    Associate members are those persons employed or contracted as reporters, writers or editors by one or more legitimate news or media organizations that are supported by advertising and/or paid subscriptions and are not house organs of any organization or movement, such as trade associations, advocacy groups and government agencies, and are responsible for or spend not less than fifty percent (50%) of their time on food news.
    No member can receive remuneration from producers, processors, merchandisers of food or food-related products or similar commercial entities.
    http://www.afjonline.com/afj.aspx?pgID=866

  2. To me being ethical means that a site tells it’s readers if they’ve been given compensation no matter how small by any company they’re reviewing. It also requires that you disclose if the any major players at that company are relatives or friends.

    Let’s face it, we all find out about good things to eat & drink via word of mouth, family,friends, co-workers, social media just means that network is greatly expanded to the benefit of all! To me being ethical means that you fully disclose & that you also feature products you love & endorse even when you’re not being given anything to do so.

    I for one think you do a bang up job on all counts! I am a foodie, you taking the time to use a product and produce an exacting review of it, helps me stretch my foodie $$ by enabling me to make informed choices about products/ restaurants that might be pretty pricey. You getting a product or fee out of that certainly seems reasonable to me!

  3. Robin,

    I thought I was eligible. It’s an interesting question, but my guess is that I am. Maybe she meant other food bloggers.

    I guess my post could be construed as I had an application thrust in my hand or something. More I got excited about joining the organization and that traditional media was considering food blogging.

    I can ask my lunch guest about whether you would be eligible.

  4. Thanks Jean, I appreciate the kind words. My feeling is that most readers won’t mind I’m not paying for a product as long as they know, but I can’t be sure if I don’t ask.

  5. well, i think it is good enough to specify you are given a free meal to review a restaurant or whatsoever, just so the reader can understand that the review might not be as honest as it can me… i mean sometimes if given free meal, i would not review on certain dish that taste bad…

    i certainly don’t like food blogger who blog about a food review or other review giving an impression that they pay for it when they could at least mentioned they are invited to a food review of something

  6. With all due respect to the AFJ, I think their guidelines are outdated. The Blog With Integrity pledge http://www.blogwithintegrity.com is a perfectly good guideline. I wouldn’t mind if traditional media got paid or got freebies as long as they disclosed them as well as any advertising relationships their publication has with the subject of the article.

  7. While on the 52 Donuts journey, I was conflicted as to how I should handle offers of free donuts (well, other than to eat them of course). I ultimately decided to rarely mention to donut shop owners or employees that I was a food blogger. This did eliminate the offers of free food but it also eliminated much of the great conversation and delightful donut history stories shared when I mentioned the blog. Like you, I always divulged what was given to me at no charge.

    On this years 52 journey, I am baking in my own kitchen and not buying baked goods. I have a new perspective on this dilemma. Now I am more than happy to accept products and ingredients for review and inclusion in my recipes. The change in thinking comes from the increase in my grocery bill. It does get very expensive to work with high quality ingredients, buy new bakeware, cookbooks, etc…I do think it is possible to write an ethical review of a product provided at no charge and I also think the companies providing such items expect honest reviews, even if that is a bit negative.

  8. Good question, Chris. Like Jean, Vivien and Suebob, I think that you would retain the integrity of your blog via adequate disclosure [and thanks for linking to the Blog with Integrity Pledge, Suebob!].

    So long as bloggers are honest about any conflict of interest surrounding the products & services they review, readers should be trusted to make up their own mind about whether or not they take notice of the content.

    H 🙂

  9. Can’t believe I just left this comment in the wrong post! Brain fart.

    RJ Flamingo Says:
    March 12th, 2010 at 10:05 am
    This topic, or something resembling this topic, seems to crop up about every 6 months, like clockwork. Federal law says that as bloggers, we must disclose & that’s quite sufficient for me. I’m including the link to my own blogpost of a year ago, treating something similar.

    http://www.flamingomusings.com/2009/05/i-dont-need-no-stinkin-badge.html

    Although I’ve become more of a food blogger than I was at the time of writing that, my feelings on the subject haven’t.

  10. Chris,

    I have to say that I agree with the AFJ. Of course, if this is your hobby and it’s fun for you, you can always do whatever you want. But I’m not sure you can expect to be taken as seriously as you would be if your paid for the food you review. It just depends on how seriously you want to be taken.

    Hard news journalists pay. Restaurant reviewers pay. Roger Ebert pays. Consumer Reports pays – and then they auction off what they bought to staff and friends to recoup some of the cost. It’s the only way to be 100% neutral.

  11. Todd,

    That’s an interesting take. And one I’m a little more surprised more people don’t take.

    So the question to seriousness goes… does that apply to recipes I write? How does it affect recipes I create that use products I was given?

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