May 192010
 

Should you go to the International Food Blogger Conference in Seattle August 27-29? James Osland, editor of Saveur, will give the keynote; Victoria Von Beul, executive editor of Bon Appetit magazine will lead a pitch session; memoirist Kathleen Flinn will teach a “Writing With the Senses” class; and I’ll be speaking on a panel about recipes, moderated by Amy Sherman.

These are not good enough reasons!  On a food blogger listserv, the buzz was all about what might be in the goody bags based on what recipients scored last year. Here’s what they said:

    “I figure between the goody bag we’ll be receiving (last year’s was insane) and the food we’ll be served, the $350 is actually pretty worth it.”
    “I know – I was drooling over that knife people got. I’m not sure if I can
    really rely on the goody bag though for ROI :) who knows what they are
    putting in there.”
    “The goodie bag alone was at least $350 last year..”

When I mentioned these comments to IFBC  founder Sheri Wetherell, she Continue reading »

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Apr 272010
 

Cooking for a dinner partyWhen three big food bloggers  forwarded an email invitation to me within minutes of each other, I had to take a look. All three were insulted by this offer but knew that other food bloggers would take the companies up on it.

Here’s a condensed version of the invite, with sponsor names deleted:

“We enjoy your culinary blog, and share your passion for cooking and fine cuisine. To provide a fun way to try new recipes with your friends, we offer you the opportunity to host an Easy & Elegant Dinner Party in your home.

“Here’s how it works.You and 1000 fellow foodies across the country will simultaneously host Easy & Elegant Dinner Parties. If selected as a host, you will receive a generous party pack – including Continue reading »

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Feb 162010
 

kitchenscaleA blogger thought she got a product for free, then was asked to return it. On a listserv, she wrote:

“A PR person contacted me, representing a large cookware store. ‘If they could do anything for me…let them know.’ I told them I was testing bread cookbooks and could use a scale. If they could work somemagic on that end…great!

“The response I got was a link to their entire kitchen scale inventory and was told Continue reading »

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Nov 022009
 

You know how sometimes things come back to bite you in the butt? It just happened to me.

Recently I wrote a piece about accepting a free water purifier. At the end, I pointed to Katie’s  Nesting Spot, where Katie wrote a long, enthusiastic post about the pitcher and offered it as a giveaway. I wanted to show that even though I was not willing to do this, hundreds of other bloggers were, and here was a good example.

Being new to blogging, I forgot that Katie could see where her hits were coming from. After a few days, she sent a comment to the blog post:

P1010026

“I have been watching this comment thread with some interest. I have to say that I do not consider the pitcher a freebie. I consider it a form of payment for the PR post I wrote and giveaway I managed. I consider it along the lines of an advertisement, and unlike ad buttons this one wasn’t up front and center for an extended period of time.

“As one of your readers pointed out, I did clearly state that I was given the pitcher to review and that the opinions I gave were uninfluenced by the sponsor. In fact, I was told to post whatever I wanted even it was negative. No parameters were put on the content.

“I have turned down several compensated posts and review offers because they are not something I would really use or are not appropriate for my family. In terms of review blogs I am very, very, small potatoes so I was rather shocked Continue reading »

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Aug 282009
 

images-1Recently I wrote a post about handling freebies that got a ton of attention, thanks to people who re-Twittered (re-Tweeted?) it.  Some bloggers commented that they are not journalists, and therefore rules about handling freebies, reviews, and promotions do not apply.

I wasn’t so sure, and thought I’d do some research. Let’s look at three definitions of a journalist:

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary,  a journalist is

  • a writer or editor for a news medium, or
  • a writer who aims at a mass audience.

According to Dictionary.com, a journalist has several meanings:

  • the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.
  • the “press”
  • a course of study preparing students for careers in reporting, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines
  • writing that reflects superficial thought and research, a popular slant, and hurried composition, conceived of as exemplifying topical newspaper or popular magazine writing as distinguished from scholarly writing.

And according to Scott Rosenberg, author of Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why it Matters, “blogging could be journalism any time the person writing a blog chose to act like a journalist — recording and reacting to the events of the day, asking questions and seeking answers, checking facts and fixing errors.”

So according to each definition, food bloggers are journalists. You aim at a mass audience (your blog is public), you write in a popular, non-scholarly way, and you record and react to the events of the day (even if they occur in your kitchen), asking questions and seeking answers.

Semantics aside, most of what food bloggers write is the same format as published content. Publications have columnists who write humorous first-person essays or opinions about current events.  They have cookbook reviews, recipes and product reviews. Sure, your posts contain links, the content is usually shorter, and photography makes step-by-step recipe writing  clearer and visually appealing. But basically, it’s the same thing.

The bottom line is that you are not reinventing the wheel. You are producing recognizable, familiar material in a different medium. Therefore, rules of ethical behavior apply.

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