Last week the New Yorker featured a snarky piece on food bloggers, called So You want to Write a Food Blog. Yes, it’s cute and clever, but wrong.
My main gripe is that the writer — Julia Edelman, a comedy writer and filmmaker, according to LinkedIn –has reduced all food bloggers to goofy incompetents. That’s not right, or fair.
The piece made me want to defend food bloggers, so here are my points:
1. Most food bloggers are hobbyists. Edelman doesn’t seem to know this. She addressed food bloggers directly, saying:
“First off, you should give yourself a pat on the back for quitting that boring paralegal job, forgetting about your student debt, and focussing on yourself.”
Wrong. Most aren’t quitting their jobs to try to make a living from their blogs. They write in their spare time. Isn’t the New Yorker supposed to fact-check stuff like this?
2. Most food bloggers are not professional writers. Yet, Edelman takes them to task:
“..figure out a way to begin your first blog post with a bang. I suggest something ponderous, such as “Why does the sun seem so bright today?” or “What is the real purpose of the little toe—is it just there to be cute?” “Swiss chard: a leafy green for people who can’t find the kale?”
Droll, but wrong-headed. Hobby writers don’t always know what constitutes a good lead. Professional writers, on the other hand, are supposed to know. And when they don’t, editors are there to fix their stories. Most bloggers, however, don’t have the benefit of someone who makes their writing better (like Edelman did). They just press “publish.”
3. Professional food bloggers are business people. At the end of her essay, Edelman writes:
“Congratulations! You made it through your first day as a ‘professional’ food blogger.”
Way off. Professional food bloggers think of themselves as entrepreneurs, and they make great incomes too.
Edelman isn’t alone in bashing food bloggers. Around the same time that the New Yorker essay debuted, a radio host interviewed me about how food bloggers are threatening paid journalists by writing for free. Please! Two more points:
4. Food bloggers do not threaten the jobs of journalists. Today, most food bloggers who desire income start with sponsored posts on their own blogs. This strategy does not affect freelance writers who get paid to write.
5. Newspapers and magazines are unlikely to publish food bloggers. Any writer who thinks bloggers can overtake them in writing for publication is high. Most stories are very formulaic and mostly uninterested in personal stories.
Finally, yes, food bloggers write for free, but many professional writers have written for free as well when they were starting out.
So, now you tell me, should food bloggers be the object of ridicule or fear? Let’s discuss.
(Image courtesy of hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)