Food Blog Code of Ethics

We hold ourselves to a higher code

Tag: food writing standards

Photography, Copyright and Attribution

We’ve been trying hard to get to the bottom of the complicated issue of handling photos, other than your own, in the blogosphere. Fortunately, a professor of law at Case Western, Ms. Jacqueline Lipton, PhD, was kind enough to weigh in. Her comments are below, and we’ve amended The Code, to reflect this issue with a simple: We will respect copyright on photos (with a reference to these same notes).

In response to your query, generally it’s wise to always seek permission from the copyright holder if the image in question doesn’t have a license attached describing permissible uses (eg a Creative Commons type license).

Of course, depending on the type of use being made, the reproduction of a photograph without permission could be a “fair use” under the copyright law, particularly if no commercial use is being made of it and it is not interfering with a market for the photograph – which may well be the case on many blogs.  Thus, the otherwise potentially infringing use could be excused under the fair use doctrine.

It is important to recognize that the question of attribution is a separate question to copyright infringement.  While you should always attribute the source of a picture, copyright infringement is a separate question and you can infringe copyright even if you give appropriate attribution.  While many copyright holders will only ask for attribution in return for permission to use the picture, it is NOT a general rule of copyright law that if you give appropriate attribution, you have not infringed copyright.  Copyright law deals with acts of copying or displaying a picture, not how it is attributed.

The Code

In order to form a more perfect union of food bloggers, we offer this five point code of ethics. We encourage dialogue, participation and insights from other concerned bloggers.

1. We will be accountable

  • We will write about the culinary world with the care of a professional. We will not use the power of our blog as a weapon. We will stand behind our claims. If what we say or show could potentially affect someone’s reputation or livelihood, we will post with the utmost thought and due diligence.
  • We will not hide behind total anonymity. Even if we choose to write anonymously for our own personal or professional safety, we will not post anything that we wouldn’t feel comfortable putting our name on and owning up to.
  • If we review a restaurant, product or culinary resource we will hold ourselves to a standard set of guidelines as offered by the Association of Food Journalists.

2. We will be civil

  • We whole-heartedly believe in freedom of speech, but we also acknowledge that our experiences with food are subjective. We promise to be mindful, regardless of how passionate we are. We will be forthright, but will refrain from personal attacks.

3. We will reveal bias

  • If we are writing about something or someone we are emotionally connected to, we will be up front about it.

4. We will disclose gifts, comps and samples

  • When something is given to us or offered at a deep discount because of our blog, we will disclose that information. As bloggers, most of us do not have the budgets of large publications, and we recognize the value of samples, review copies of books, donated giveaway items and culinary event, but it’s import to disclose freebies to avoid accusations of conflicts of interest.

5. We will follow the rules of good journalism

  • We will not plagiarize or use images from others without attribution. We will research. We will attribute quotes and offer link backs to original sources whenever possible. We will do our best to make sure that the information we are posting about is accurate. We will factcheck. In other words, we will practice good journalism.

Why have a code?

As the blogging world expands exponentially, more and more people in the culinary world believe that food bloggers—as a groupare unfair, highly critical, untrained and power hungry individuals empowered by anonymity. As writers, trained journalists and food bloggers, we feel it is unfair to be labeled something we aren’t. By creating a food blogger code of ethics, we hope to elevate our craft and draw attention to the food bloggers who hold themselves to higher standards.

Why should I subscribe to the ideas of The Code?

We believe you should be able to write about your experiences as you wish. We know everyone’s truth is different and we thoroughly appreciate the diversity of opinions within the food blogging realm. We are not against free speech. We do not believe in censoring. We do, however, believe in civility, honesty and truth.

We strive to make our blogs stand out from the rest through our writing and story telling. We created The Code because we felt it was important to define what our ethical standards were and clearly state them so that we could hold ourselves to those standards.  The Code is not meant to be a mandatory thing for everyone in the blogosphere. This is our way to define what our standards are.

We are proud to be bloggers and hope to give the blogging community a better reputation. We wrote this because we were concerned that food bloggers were being unfairly judged as hacks, which the majority of us are not – with or without journalism degrees. And that by creating a code of conduct should give us MORE freedom to be honest, not less.

Who we are

The Food Blog Code of Ethics was written collaboratively by  Brooke Burton and Leah Greenstein. We are also food writers and the people behind the food blogs SpicySaltySweet.com and FoodWoolf.com.If you believe its important to hold your food blog to a higher code and want to be listed here as someone that follows these guidelines, please contact us at foodblogethics at gmail.

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