There’s been a lot of buzz around the food blogging world for the last few days. If you want to know why, you can click the link and read all about it.
While the basic idea of this code is common sense honesty, and I’m sure—written with good intentions--there are a few things about it that rub me the wrong way. I’ll touch on those first, then give you some links to other blogs who have posted about it, as well. I urge you to also read through the comments—they’re well thought out and may bring up some points you haven’t thought of.
1) This Code of Ethics was written by two trained journalists that also blog about food. So naturally, they lean towards journalistic ethics. And that’s fine! If you’re a journalist. Which I am not. I write this blog for fun. I look at it as friends having a chat about food.
2) The authors of the code say they had heated discussions with other food bloggers before putting it in writing. What food bloggers? I wasn’t one of them. I don’t think I know any one else that was asked to weigh in on it. I think that before one word of the code was released, it should have been put out there for all food bloggers to offer up opinions on. Granted, there would have been a lot of opinions to wade through, but I think if you’re going to set up “guidelines” that you’d like to apply to all food bloggers, then you ought to give them the option to know about it and be a part of it before you release it to the world. That’s common sense.
3) Honesty. It’s a very good thing! I’m an honest person with integrity. I don’t think that if I put a little badge saying “I Follow The Code” in my sidebar, you’ll all rest easier at night. Will you? I give my readers way more credit than that! You guys can discern between bullshit and the truth. It seems silly to me to have to tell you that I’m an honest person. You’ll either think someone is or not. But more importantly, you’ll form that opinion on your own. I actually read a comment by someone who was all aboard for the code, and said it was a way to *set themselves apart as having standards* they write by.
Well, excuse me (!), but I have standards already, and don’t need a code to proclaim it! Being ethical, honest, and civil are qualities you either have, or you don’t. And no code is going to help you if you don’t already possess those attributes.
4) While we’re on the subject of honesty…I really don’t expect that the thieves out there that steal blog content and photos will suddenly say “Oh, there’s a CODE? Well, that changes everything! I’ll stop stealing your content right away and never do it again!” Please. They’re going to do it anyway, because they’re unethical, and no badge or document will stop them. They have to want to do it.
5) The authors of the code think that restaurant reviews by food bloggers should be fair. I can’t argue with that at all. But they suggest visiting an establishment at least twice before reviewing. Which would be fine if I were a journalist with an expense account. But I’m a stay at home mom, and our budget for such things come out of my husband’s paycheck. I suggest that restaurants learn consistency and put out quality food every time a plate leaves the kitchen, or own up to it—and not get pissed at the food blogger that happened to get a bad plate of food.
6) I fund this blog. Which means I’m “Supreme Ruler and Dictator” when it comes to what I publish on it. If I want to be crude (which I’m not, for the most part) I will. If I don’t want to be civil, I won’t. Please refer to my title in line one, section six if you’ve got an issue with that.
7) From the code:
“As the blogging world expands exponentially, more and more people in the culinary world believe that food bloggers—as a group—are unfair, highly critical, untrained and power hungry individuals empowered by anonymity.”
I’m betting that the ones who think food bloggers are unfair and critical are the very ones being criticized by food bloggers. They call us hacks. I have a simple solution for them. Put out better food, better books, and better products. And put on your grown up panties and realize that not everyone will kiss your ass and tell you you’re awesome! If you’re putting yourself out there publicly, be ready for criticism. It’s part of being in the public eye.
8) The badge. For the time being, they’ve decided to hold off on releasing it, and thank GOD for that. They say: “We’re conflicted about the negative message the badge might convey.”
Negative message is right! Can you imagine new readers coming to a great, honest blog—not seeing the badge, and thinking “Oh, this must be written by an unethical, dishonest hack. I must go elsewhere.”
This badge should never, ever become the defining “badge of honor.” Because there are millions of honest, ethical and civil food bloggers out there, and they don’t need a badge to proclaim it. I’ll say it again. I think 99% of food blog readers are extremely smart people and can tell when someone is trying to bullshit them—and the 1% are trolls looking to piss people off. But for someone who just starts reading food blogs—well, I hope they never have to look for a badge of honesty to decide whether to read a blog or not.
I guess that was a little more than a few. But I feel very strongly about this. Now, the authors state plainly that these are guidelines, not rules. But really, if someone decides not to follow and jump on the bandwagon, does that make them unethical? Dishonest? Uncivil?
Hell, no! But it’s a slippery slope they’re on—trying to govern a very large group of people and hold them to standards that journalists follow. And with all due respect to these ladies, rather pretentious. I don’t know the numbers, but I’m betting most food bloggers aren’t trained journalists like the authors of the code. Will people embrace it, follow it, live by it? Or will the hype die down in a few months as we’ve all moved on to something else? I don’t know yet.
Here are a few links to check out. I hope you’ll go read them, and don’t forget the comments! There are many opinions, and things for you to think about. Whether you’re a food blog writer or a blog reader—you should know about this code, and decide if it’s important to you or not. As a reader, especially. Will you look for the badge of honesty? Or will you let the blogs speak for themselves, and use your intelligence to see when someone is lying to you?
I’ll leave you with this: I’m an honest person. I’m ethical, and civil. And I care about my readers—I won’t lie to you. But I won’t subscribe to someone else’s idea of what a food blogger should be like. I’ll be me, without a shiny badge, and hope that you’ll still come back to read about what I have to say. And thanks to those that do!