Does opinion still matter? Yes. (Photo by Stuart Miles.)
Now that the New York Times’ latest restaurant critic, Sam Sifton, has moved on, the hand wringing begins anew about whether career food critics are doomed because of Yelp and food bloggers.
Let’s ask a different question. How have food bloggers changed restaurant reviewing? Here’s what I see as the biggest shifts:
1. Food bloggers don’t wait to review. In the old days, reviewers waited a month or so for the restaurant to get its groove. Bloggers figure that if they’re open for business, they’re fair game.
I like this approach. It implies there’s no cozy relationship between the two. Except that sometimes, there is. See No. 2.
2. Restaurants have opening events for bloggers. Print reviewers go to restaurants undercover and hope not to be recognized. They have expense accounts or get reimbursed as freelancers, whereas most bloggers write for free, as a hobby. So restaurants pay for them to come sample a meal. The cozy relationship is back.
3. Bloggers are more likely to cover an event than to review the food. Cover means “I went there and this is what I had,” versus. reviewing, which requires opinions Continue reading »