Ever since I started food blogging, I have noticed from time to time criticism on Twitter, Facebook and through on-line articles about the state of food writing in the 21st century and who is actually doing it. A traditional print model of newspapers and magazines publishing food writings has existed 'forever'.
In this day and age, it is quick to set up a web page and begin blogging. Now with such social media tools as Twitter and Facebook, it is also effortless to get the word out. Anybody can publish, if they are so inclined.
Here in Ottawa I faithfully follow close to 25 food bloggers, thanks somewhat in part to a food aggregator site called The Food. (Though I would venture to say the list of food blogs in Ottawa is probably nearing 100.) My reading list includes such notables as the Ottawa Citizen's blog by food editor Ron Eade called Omnivore's Ottawa. As far as I know, their food critic, Anne DesBrisay does not blog but does go digital with a website called Capital Dining, where her printed reviews are posted on-line, 'blog style'. I regularly catch Lunch Rush by Shari Goodman at MetroNews. Shari also has a personal food blog called Whisk. Shawna Wagman is consistently sharing foodie morsels over at Ottawa Magazine through City Bites. But many food blogs I read are done by amateur writers receiving no remuneration for what they post.
The blogs seem to come in all shapes and sizes. Some really look quite sharp. Downright artistic. Others, plain and basic. There is the clean look vs. the very cluttered. Some writings are short and sweet, bordering on poetic. Some are more the story-teller. There are those that struggle with their prose. And then there are the ones that come at you like 'I just had 3 Red Bulls!!'. You might find some choose to invite you into their family and kitchen. Others keep arms length and choose just to inform. Some are pushing vendor products on their behalf. Some are helping to distribute press releases. Some want all the world to follow. Others, just friends and family (but would tolerate the odd voyeur). Some blog once a day. Others blog once a year. Some read like they are dying to get paid one day. Others, hold tight to 'getting paid' means 'selling out'. And for some, this is just a great place to store their favourite recipes and restaurants and lucky you if you want to skim through it too.
With food blogging being so ubiquitous in the nation's capital, it has raised so many questions for me. The obvious one being, is there room for everyone's voice to be heard?
And then the questions start to tumble (none of them unique to Ottawa-Gatineau) ....
What qualifications are required, if any, to be a food blogger? What should be the 'rules of engagement? Are there some areas that are off limits or inappropriate? Are there some things about food blogging that is just downright WRONG? Do restaurateurs and chefs see a place for food bloggers or are they a blight on the print sheets of food writing? Should they cover a breadth of topics or do they create 'topic fatigue'? Are food bloggers being exploited for their readership to push someone else's food agenda? Are they too critical or not critical enough? Sure, there is the Food Blog Code of Ethics, but is there more to this conversation than this 'Magna Carta' of food? And what about the BIG question, does anybody really care?
Please weigh in. I would love to hear what you think. Is there room for food bloggers in the world of food writing?