A little birdie emailed last week to say she was upset about a change in the James Beard Foundation’s Food Blog awards, which combined two food blog awards into one this year.
To understand the shift, here are the old categories from 2015:
Individual Food Blog: Recognizes individual enterprise and excellence in a single food-or drink-related blog that is the product of one or two primary voices. An entry consists of five links that best represent the quality of the work.
Group Food Blog: Recognizes group enterprise and excellence in an episodic, real-time food-or drink-related blog that is the product of a small group of regular voices who demonstrate responsive engagement with their community. An entry consists of five links that best represent the quality of the work.
Here is the lone award for 2016:
Food Blog: Recognizes enterprise and excellence in an episodic food-or drink-related blog that uses the unique tools of the medium (such as community, real-time publishing and flexibility of layouts and embedded elements) to their fullest advantage. An entry consists of five links that best represent the quality of the work.
Program chair John Kessler said the criteria had been the same for both awards in the past, so the committee decided to merge them. He also said that individual blogs are “not so distinguishable” from professional publications these days.
He explained that Beard journalism committee judges score their choices based on:
- Engagement (Is the content trustworthy, credible and interactive?)
- Style (Is the voice distinctive?)
- User experience (Is the functionality intuitive and easily navigated?)
So why did the little birdie email me? She is concerned that smaller bloggers now compete with mega group blogs like Serious Eats and that the focus is no longer on writing. When I asked Kessler about that, he said in past Beard awards, smaller publications have successfully competed with larger ones. Fair enough, but group blogs usually have editors and more resources, compared to individuals.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “I don’t think anything is written in stone.”
If you want to enter this award for best blog, pick five posts that represent the above criteria. The deadline is 1/6/16.
What do you think about this change? Is food blogging changing, where a strong voice is just one advantage? Will group food blogs have an advantage over individual blogs in this new award?
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- What Kind of Writing Wins a Beard Award?
- 9 James Beard Award-Winning Stories and Why They Won
- Who Qualifies as a Beard Finalist, and What They Wrote