Feb 242010
 

holdup12

Despite hand-wringing about the decline of print restaurant reviewing, few people seem to care. When I teach food writing, hardly anyone asks about becoming a critic now, and a post I wrote on how the net influences restaurant reviewing elicited no response.

Maybe it’s about the economy. Food bloggers cook, perhaps because it’s less expensive and more hands-on than eating out. Due to lack of funds, restaurant reviewers now fall into two camps:  the few remaining newspaper employees and freelancers reimbursed for meals; and hobbyists, who write on websites like Yelp.

So please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems no one wants to be a restaurant reviewer anymore. And certainly this news about Yelp doesn’t elevate the profession.

What news, you ask? It’s called Yelpmail. On this post from Chez Geek, a Continue reading »

Aug 162009
 

Two leaders in print food writing have acknowledged the power of online restaurant reviews. They’re not about to say they value the opinions, but it’s a start.

imagesSam Sifton, the new restaurant critic for the New York Times, says the net can add value where newspapers cannot. Answering questions about his new post on Diner’s Journal, he said,  “The biggest change in restaurant criticism since my days at NYPress is — hands down — the Internet. I don’t know that I trust the opinion of that guy who loved the sandwiches at Xie Xie and wrote about it on his blog, or Yelp, or Eater, or Midtown Lunch. (Why prevaricate? I don’t trust his opinion.) But boy oh boy do I like the photographs he’s posted, the menu he’s scanned, the information he’s provided for all to share. For myself, I look forward to joining that discussion.”

(By the way, he failed to provide links to Yelp, Eater or Midtown Lunch.)

The announcement about the nation’s most powerful restaurant reviewer prompted some to ask if that title is still relevant, now that anyone can write a restaurant review online, whether a rabid  citizen reviewer or a well-known blogger.

I’m biased enough to think the answer is yes, with a background as a print journalist. I can’t think of a single online reviewer with his influence, when it comes to the fancy restaurants. Can you?

images-1Back in 2006, Gourmet Editor Ruth Reichl said that restaurant reviews in her magazine no longer make sense, because online reviews appear immediately. National magazines often work six months in advance, so scooping the net would be a “ridiculous” proposition. Now the magazine focuses on trend stories, adding depth and insights that online posts do not, and posts reviews only on its website.

She made these comments about print versus online food writing during a New York radio show about “Amateur Gastronomes,” otherwise known as food bloggers. Bloggers Josh Friedland of TheFoodSection.com (who just did what used to be unforgivable: posted a mugshot of Sifton August 10), Jennifer Leuzzi of snack.blogs.com, and Regina Schrambling of gastropoda.com were also on the show. It’s worth a listen.