Bloggers Join the Spin Cycle

An article in Saturday’s Weekend Australian has raised questions about the role food bloggers play in the new media landscape. In a feature entitled ‘Everyone’s a Critic’, Elizabeth Meryment described a recent food-industry product launch featuring a high-profile international chef and several local food bloggers. Noting that there are about 800 food and restaurant blogs in Australia, Meryment notes that “the sands are shifting under the feet of the media and the food industry”, and questions the protocols and ethics of bloggers: “Many observers are … concerned about bloggers who fail to declare freebies or conflicts of interest,” writes Meryment, and later notes that the “lack of critical commentary on blogs is galling” for industry professionals.

In response, Sydney blogger Helen Yee, the creator of the Grab Your Fork blog, which the article cites, has defended the positive role that amateurs can play in writing about food. “It always strikes me as odd that print journalists presume all food bloggers are attempting to usurp their role,” she writes. “Food blogs, in my opinion, operate on an entirely different dynamic - they are, by their very nature, personal and diary-like, and written from a layperson’s view.” Yee sees the amateurism of blogs as a fundamental part of their appeal: “Comparing bloggers to industry journalists misses the whole point of the blogging phenomenon - people read blogs because they’re not written by journalists, nor in a traditional newspaper format or style. The question is, why?”

The Wheeler Centre, in partnership with ABC Radio National, presents Meals on Wheels, the last in our three-part Writer’s Banquet series, with Stephanie Alexander, Frank Camorra and Elizabeth Chong in conversation with Romano Koval tonight at 6:15pm.

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