Food Ethics in the Columbia Journalism Review
It’s been nine months since we–Leah Greenstein, and Brooke Burton–created Food Ethics and our controversial Food Blog Code of Ethics. In those months, much has happened here in the world of online food writing and criticism. The Federal Trade Commission has made it punishable by law for big (and little) companies to give money and gifts to bloggers without being transparent about it. One blog offers badges to denote a commitment to honesty and integrity. Blogs that once skirted the issue of freebies and comps, now openly state their affiliations, biases, and disclose freebies.
When we first decided to write our statement of purpose nine months ago—for the sake of being clear on what we stood for in online writing—the topic of ethics in the blogosphere was something that was whispered between online writers. Many had opinions, but few were willing to publish their thoughts on the matter. So, when we decided it was time we write out our five-point manifesto on food blog ethics, our words and point of view caused a lot of controversy. We were shocked at how many people got engaged (and enraged) and suddenly everyone was talking about ethics. In a time when most people were interested in new iPhone apps and the birth of Twitter, we were ecstatic that we were surrounded by people arguing about philosophy. Getting people to think about the effect of their words before they hit PUBLISH was our goal.
So it was with great pleasure that we discovered Food Ethics was mentioned by Robert Seitsema, the author and food critic for the Village Voice in his comprehensive Columbia Journalism Review article, “Everyone Eats…But that doesn’t make you a restaurant critic”. In it, he masterfully charts the history of restaurant reviewing in the United States since the 1970’s and the effect of a handful of people on food writing.
August 28, 2011
Food Blog Code of Ethics 2.0
It’s been more than two years since the Food Blog Code of Ethics made its debut on the Internet. Our little manifesto–a written record of two people standing up for a basic set of principles in food blogging–was read by thousands in just hours and millions by the end of our first month of posting it.
We were some of the first food bloggers to suggest that we hold ourselves to a code of “journalistic” ethics. Our call for responsible online publishing hit a nerve. While many praised our declaration of a code, others openly reviled us for our lengthy manifesto that encouraged applying traditional journalism’s ethical principles to the wily world of online food writing. We were called fascists, dictators, and gutsy visionaries.
After spending much time responding to debate and comment, we decided to leave our manifesto to speak for itself. We saw our statement of fundamental principles as something that’s unchanging, and did not necessitate constant updates every couple of days.
It is important, however, to stay current. So for that reason, we believe it’s time to make a few adjustments to our manifesto.
1. We added “commenters” to our manifesto because, like bloggers and websites, people who write comments publish their opinions and should be aware that they are accountable for their actions. And based on the rapid increase of hateful and threatening comments on the internet, we think it’s important that even the anonymous individuals who sling abuse realize that they will be held accountable for their threats by organizations far more powerful than ethically minded individuals.
2. We’re gonna keep it short this time.
FOOD BLOG CODE OF ETHICS 2.0