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Blogging, honesty, integrity


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#1 Chufi

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 02:49 AM

The Netherlands are a small country, and the number of Dutch-language foodbloggers is relatively small. Even though I don´t work very hard at becoming a member of the Dutch blogging community (ie I don´t comment on other people´s blogs much), my blog is becoming better known. It has come to the point where I am contacted by people in the business (shops, restaurants) who know I´ve been writing about a specific subject, and who ask me to come to come by to try their stuff. Which is fun, and interesting, and flattering, all at once.

So far no problems but recently something happened which has been worrying me. I´m doing a series on one particular subject and I went to a store that sells this stuff (in this case, uninvited). I got talking to the guy and told him I had a blog and was writing about this subject. He then spent the next hour talking to me, showing me things, (although he did not let me taste things). At one point he even said: this thing, we´re still developing, so maybe you could hold off writing about it for a couple of months? I said, well, it´s in your store, I bought it, I´m going home to taste it, and then write about it. :biggrin:

So indeed I did go home and taste it and then.. I did not like it. And now I´m thinking: what do I write? There´s no way I´m NOT going to be honest. And not write about it, would be a real shame since this piece really belongs in my series. But, I know this guy won´t like it even if I tone my criticism down. So I feel bad for him, and also I don´t want to ruin my relationship with him, because he could be helpful to me in the future.. is that selfish?

Should I NOT have mentioned having a blog and wanting to write about him? But then I would have missed all the info he gave me, names of other shops etc. And in the case of people contacting ME, there´s not even the option of not telling them I´ll probably write about them.

How do other bloggers, who write reviews etc deal with this?

#2 jumanggy

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 03:05 AM

No, it's not selfish at all.. If your relationship with this person is very important, you should definitely not write about it (it's kind of an ambush..). Yet. My advice is to pay a visit to the person and tell him in a very balanced and detailed way what you feel was lacking with the product. After all, they are still in development and if he's reasonable, he would probably appreciate the feedback more, and also appreciate your restraint.
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#3 Chufi

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 03:17 AM

No, it's not selfish at all.. If your relationship with this person is very important, you should definitely not write about it (it's kind of an ambush..). Yet. My advice is to pay a visit to the person and tell him in a very balanced and detailed way what you feel was lacking with the product. After all, they are still in development and if he's reasonable, he would probably appreciate the feedback more, and also appreciate your restraint.

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what he´s developing is not actually the product itself, but the way he´s presenting it in his store. He´s very proud of the product and does not feel it needs to change!

My criticism of it is very much in the "to each his own" category. Btw that is how I always write when I say I don´t like something: I say it´s not to my taste, and why, instead of saying the thing is bad in itself.

I feel that contacting him in advace, before blogging about it, somewhat defeats the purpose of blogging. Now if I were writing an article for a magazine, yes ofcourse I would let him read the piece and try to work it out with him (although even then, I feel that honesty should be important). But this is just a blog! Or isn´t it? :wacko: :huh:

#4 miladyinsanity

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 04:00 AM

Generally, most bloggers I know take one of two stands: Don't say anything unless it's something nice, or let it all out.

Anecdotal evidence says that the latter gets more readers, but then, the latter type of blogger tends to be more controversial anyway.

I've also learnt that it's better not to let them read the reviews before it goes up, and quite frankly, I'm not going to let him know that the review has gone up unless he asked me specifically to do so.

From what you've said, the shop and the guy was quite helpful. But the product was not so good. Make that a clear distinction. Every little bit of good news helps.
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#5 jumanggy

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 04:12 AM

I'm suddenly remembering a moment from a favorite television show of mine... "Once you eat the cake, there is no cake to have!" :laugh: People's reactions are unpredictable. If you gave your URL away, be prepared for him to read it, and don't be surprised if he reacts negatively, and you might not be able to take advantage of your connection anymore. Great if he is mature about it and appreciates your honesty.
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#6 Fat Guy

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 04:14 AM

Now if I were writing an article for a magazine, yes of course I would let him read the piece and try to work it out with him

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To me this would be inappropriate with both print and online writing (which should be treated the same). If you've written what you believe to be true, there's no excuse for changing it because any change will by definition make it something you don't believe to be true. And what does that make you? Every concern you cite -- "I feel bad for him," "I don´t want to ruin my relationship with him, because he could be helpful to me in the future" -- works against truth. Once you focus on truth, all your other decisions become easy.

There's nothing wrong with talking to people about being a blogger, but you've got to be able to look them in the eye and say "no" when they try to manipulate you. If the item is being offered for sale to the public, you should feel absolutely free to write about it. Had he taken you in the back and let you preview an item that was not yet for sale, that would perhaps be a different story -- you'd have to use your judgment regarding the value of writing about something that's in the development phase. But the shopkeeper's feelings, your relationship and what he can do for you in the future still would not be relevant considerations.

Most of us who write over a period of years have on occasion been tempted to allow sympathy or other improper considerations to cause us to alter what we write. I'm very grateful to those who have stopped me from making this mistake.

This is not the same as your situation, but maybe it will help as an illustration:

A few years ago, when I was working on my first book, I spent several days in a restaurant kitchen. I spent time in many restaurant kitchens, actually, but there was one in particular that I'm talking about here. The restaurant was boring. After days in the kitchen, I had seen nothing interesting -- nothing that I felt would be informative to my readers. Nonetheless, the chef had been generous with his time, and I felt I owed it to him to write something about the time I had spent in his kitchen. What I wrote was as boring as my time in that unremarkable kitchen. Everything I did to make it seem interesting seemed forced. But I felt I had an obligation to include that material in the book.

My sister, who is an editor at the Wall Street Journal, is one of the few people I let see my work before I show it to my real editor at the publishing company. She read these pages and said, "This is just not interesting. You should get rid of it." And I said, "But the chef was so generous with his time!" And she said, definitively, "Your only consideration should be whether this material helps make the book better. It doesn't. Get rid of it." She was right. I got rid of it. And I've carried her words with me, applying them in many different contexts, ever since.

So if you're saying "this piece really belongs in my series," I think you have your answer.

P.S. Yes, the chef was mad at me. But not as mad as I'd have been at myself if I'd done the wrong thing.

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#7 Chufi

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 04:46 AM

Now if I were writing an article for a magazine, yes of course I would let him read the piece and try to work it out with him

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To me this would be inappropriate with both print and online writing (which should be treated the same).

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To me they are different things. Blogs are so very personal, which is part of the fun! If a magazine asked me to write a profile of this particular chef, they would give me the angle to write from, and they would pay me to write for their audience, about the subject they give me. That makes it much less approriate to be completely honest and personal - I think. That does not mean that in a piece like that I would lie, but they whole perspective is different.

But the shopkeeper's feelings, your relationship and what he can do for you in the future still would not be relevant considerations.

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I know they should not be relevant considerations, but I feel to me they are considerations, and I'm wondering how other bloggers are handling situations like this. I completely agree with you that focus on the truth should be the main thing.. it's just that it´s interesting to me, how focusing on the truth makes you feel... and if I´m the only one feeling bad about things like this ..

#8 Fat Guy

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 05:04 AM

Editorial direction is completely different from letting the subject of an article set terms. Yes, if you're on assignment for a magazine or newspaper your assignment has a certain editorial scope and style within which you're going to work. But I'm not aware of any serious print publication that shows articles in advance to the people it's covering and negotiates with them about what to include and not include.

Of course, it's sometimes hard to tell the truth. And it can be hard to do what's right for your writing at the expense of other people's feelings. That's part of being a writer. There's not a lot of advice available there other than: "Deal with it."

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#9 Chufi

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 05:17 AM

There's not a lot of advice available there other than: "Deal with it."

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I am dealing with it. In fact, my question in my original post starting this thread was:

How do other bloggers, who write reviews etc deal with this?

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I´m still hoping to hear from other bloggers about this subject.

Edited by Chufi, 25 May 2008 - 05:17 AM.


#10 Chufi

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 05:25 AM

But I'm not aware of any serious print publication that shows articles in advance to the people it's covering and negotiates with them about what to include and not include.

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In the Netherlands, it´s pretty much custom to show any piece or interview to the people it´s covering. And yes, this often turns into a negotiation process about what to delete and what to include. Not all press/media systems in all countries are equal :smile:

Edited by Chufi, 25 May 2008 - 05:26 AM.


#11 Malawry

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 05:51 AM

I say if he's offering it for sale, you should write about it fairly. It's fair game if it's offered to the general public for money. But don't trash it and don't make it personal--there's obviously a very real and passionate person behind this item you didn't like and I think it's important to keep that in mind.

I once had a chef (rather abusively) demand I take down something I wrote about their restaurant here on eG. I stated that I'd only respond in public by reprinting their letter here on the site. The chef said they didn't think I'd represent them fairly. OK, they had her chance to respond and they turned it down. I was a little shaken by the whole experience, but I learned a few things from it:

1. Be absolutely sure you can stand behind whatever you write.
2. Keep in mind that there are real people and their real livelihoods involved.
3. But it does nobody any favors if you become a PR tool, either.
4. I try to make sure there's some kind of forum for a response if the person behind the product I'm discussing doesn't like what I have to say. This can be comments on my blog, comments or letters to my editor from the newspapers I write for, or the ability to post your own response on a place like eG.

#12 Chufi

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 06:02 AM

4. I try to make sure there's some kind of forum for a response if the person behind the product I'm discussing doesn't like what I have to say. This can be comments on my blog, comments or letters to my editor from the newspapers I write for, or the ability to post your own response on a place like eG.

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thanks Rochelle. Does this also mean that you would let someone know that you wrote about them, for instance by sending them an email with the link, or would you just let them find out for themselves?

#13 nakji

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 06:12 AM

So far no problems but recently something happened which has been worrying me. I´m doing a series on one particular subject and I went to a store that sells this stuff (in this case, uninvited). I got talking to the guy and told him I had a blog and was writing about this subject. He then spent the next hour talking to me, showing me things, (although he did not let me taste things). At one point he even said: this thing, we´re still developing, so maybe you could hold off writing about it for a couple of months? I said, well, it´s in your store, I bought it, I´m going home to taste it, and then write about it.

So indeed I did go home and taste it and then.. I did not like it. And now I´m thinking: what do I write? There´s no way I´m NOT going to be honest. And not write about it, would be a real shame since this piece really belongs in my series. But, I know this guy won´t like it even if I tone my criticism down. So I feel bad for him, and also I don´t want to ruin my relationship with him, because he could be helpful to me in the future.. is that selfish?


Why not write what you wrote above? It came across as sincere and honest, which I think most people respect. The shopkeeper may not like what you have to say, but really, you have no control over his reaction; only yours. I think over the long term you'll feel better about not having a niggling feeling at the back of your mind about the situation.

I think different bloggers have different goals for their blogs - for example, I frequent Lunch in a Box, and the blogger always issues disclaimers about products and vendors she's featured on the site. The goal of the site is to serve as a source of information and inspiration people preparing children's bentos. The focus of the site is very tight, and it's informative and easy to navigate. There's a clear vision for the way she wants it to look, and you can see that she takes it quite seriously; any products referenced or reviewed come with disclaimers. When she mentions a product, readers take her seriously.

Other blogs, like Pim's, seem more lifestyle-y. Come and look at what I'm eating, here are some nice photos and recipes...but I can't say I see a communicative task or a purpose to the site. When she mentions she's eaten something or used something, it's more like food voyeurism for me - which...I kind of think is the feel she is intending.

The vast majority of blogs out there, though are fairly unfocused in intent, design and content, and might not be targeted at anyone in particular, or are for any special purpose other than "look at what I cooked" . My own blog falls into this category - I started it as a way to show my friends and family in Canada how I cook and live, since they're pretty curious about it.

From what I can see, readers take a blog as seriously as the blogger him or herself treats it - if the blogger want to be seen as a trustworthy source of information on a particular topic, then he or she has to act as if they were working for a real publication, as Fat Guy suggests. Although readers know the differences between blogs and magazines, newspapers and the like, I still think they hold bloggers to the same standards.

#14 Chufi

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 06:32 AM

I think different bloggers have different goals for their blogs (..)

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yes, that´s interesting.. I think for me, the goal has shifted over the 2 years I´ve been blogging. And it´s this shift that is now making me pause and think.

#15 prasantrin

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 06:33 AM

I don't have a blog, so my opinion may not be as valuable, but...

I think you should still write your opinion, but mention that the product is still being developed (as the gentleman told you), and also offer some constructive criticism--what is good about the product as it is (if anything) and what could be changed about the product for you to like it? If he reads your blog, I think he might appreciate the information (though you might also want to tell him in person, since tone of voice can affect how the information is received).

#16 docsconz

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 06:52 AM

When it comes to interviews, I think it is perfectly reasonable to have the interviewee confirm the accuracy of what was said, especially if there is any question in the writer's mind. I have been interviewed too many times or had quotes mangled by reporters through telephone or verbal contact, that I no longer answer questions unless my response can be in the written form and I have a record of it.

It seems to me, Chufi, that if this is something you feel compelled to write about, you should write about it truthfully. That doesn't mean that you need be snide or unkind.

If I'm writing about a restaurant meal, I tend to not mention a one-time meal that is mediocre unless I am in disagreement with prevailing attitudes, such as when I wrote that I was not overly impressed with Momofuko Ssam Bar last year or if expectations for a restaurant are particularly high. I do mention it if there is something egregious about the meal, service or experience. In either case, I try not to be mean-spirited about it.
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#17 Peter Green

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 07:38 AM

In the Netherlands, it´s pretty much custom to show any piece or interview to the people it´s covering. And yes, this often turns into a negotiation process about what to delete and what to include. Not all press/media systems in all countries are equal  :smile:

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I don't think this is altogether a bad thing in the wild, wild world of on-line writing. You do have a question of integrity. As pointed out above, you have to be able to stand up for what you believe in. But I also think it's fair in most cases to have a fact check.

Note that I'm talking about the unpaid free for all of blogging. For the unwashed masses (I can fit that description), we don't have the resources (particularly time) to go back to a location and double check on ingredients, dates, names, and more material that does matter. The notes you took are often all you'll have. That and your pictures and your memory. Yes, we can check the internet, but it grows increasingly more unreliable because the same unwashed masses (me again) are posting material that may not be thoroughly vetted.

Heck, I often rely upon the kindness of strangers to set me straight, and in so doing educate me. It's one of the great benefits of eGullet, in my opinion.

So, if you are in a situation where what you write could impact someone seriously, is it that unreasonable to check the facts with them?

You can still hold to your opinions, or change them if a compelling argument can be made. But the correction of errors is a good thing.

And they may still be mad with you. But it will just be over your opinion, not the errors.

I guess I should go and wash my mass now.

#18 Fat Guy

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 07:45 AM

There's a huge difference between fact-checking and giving the subject of a story editorial input. Fact-checking serves the goals of truth and quality. But that's not remotely what we're talking about in the scenario outlined above.

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#19 Malawry

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 08:05 AM

thanks Rochelle. Does this also mean that you would let someone know that you wrote about them, for instance by sending them an email with the link, or would you just let them find out for themselves?

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I usually tell people I'm planning to write about them and give them a URL, but I don't make any promises as to when it goes live. This is especially true for food reporting I do for the two papers I write for, because I have no control over publication once I hand a story in to my editor. I can tell people it won't run before x date, but after that it's out of my hands.

#20 slkinsey

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 08:28 AM

I think different bloggers have different goals for their blogs

This to me is the most relevant thing in the thread so far. Steven's comments make sense, I think, but only if some form of "journalism" is a goal you have for your blog. The beauty of a blog is that it can be anything you want it to be, and you get to make up the rules as they apply to you and your blog. This is not to say that you shouldn't be aware of potential consequences of your decisions, of course. But if to you and in the context of your blog the shopkeeper's feelings are important, then it's fair game for you to consider the shopkeeper's feelings. Maybe this means that you don't write a post about that place, maybe this means that you make a few criticisms but hold back a bit out of consideration for the shopkeeper, maybe this means that you only focus on the things you liked, etc. The main thing is that you do whatever is comfortable for your own sense of ethics. You're not writing "hard hitting" and "truthful" news for a newspaper or magazine, you're not writing a book that needs to be interesting in order to sell. You're writing an entry in your online journal. The worst-case scenario for you should be that the blog entry is perhaps a little boring. But I certainly don't think that throwing your personal consideration for the shopkeeper's feelings to the wind and posting all your various negative criticisms of the place should be an ethical imperative for you unless you want it to be. If I were writing a blog about musical performances that I pursued seriously as "online journalism" I would feel constrained to give a scathing review to a friend who had given a bad performance; but if the blog were simply "slkinsey's personal reflections on classical performances in NYC" I would feel no obligation to do so -- and if the friend were expecting to read my write-up... well, we've all got plenty of noncommittal phrases in our bag for the times we don't have much good to say about a friend's performance (e.g., "you were really doing some interesting stuff out there").
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#21 Holly Moore

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 09:02 AM

Honesty and integrity (personal or journalistic) have nothing to do with electing not to write about negative experiences. Honesty and integrity only come into play when one decides to lie about a negative experience, saying it was a good experience.
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#22 Fat Guy

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 07:53 PM

That view doesn't take into account any notion of a body of work. But if you hold yourself out as someone whose opinions are worth relying on, it doesn't cut it to say that only what you choose to write about matters. It's one thing if you say, "I have a policy of only writing about things I recommend. I don't do negative reviews." But once you decide to offer actual criticism, it's untenable to say, "I do negative reviews, but not when a person manipulates me into silencing myself."

Of course, sure, as a couple of people have mentioned above, none of this is an issue if you're just blogging in a non-serious way and you have no expectation that anybody will rely on anything you say. If it's a friends-and-family blog, okay. If you're writing fiction, fine. But when you take the next step and write criticism, report on factual matters and deliver opinions that have impact, you're an online journalist whether you like it or not because you're writing about the same things journalists write about, you're publishing your work globally, it's being read by real people and it's affecting the lives of the people you write about. You can be sued for defamation, copyright infringement and all manner of other transgressions. Try telling the judge "I'm just a blogger." So if you're on any sort of upward growth curve the day is going to come when you have to make choices about right and wrong, and the sooner you do that the better because you don't want to be stuck looking back and regretting the way you conducted your affairs before.

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#23 Holly Moore

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Posted 25 May 2008 - 08:14 PM

Fair enough, if a critic defines his mission as reviewing both good and bad restaurants and then choses not to write about a bad experience only because the restaurant owner is a friend or as a favor to a PR type, or whatever. (This is probably not the topic to suggest that negative reviews serve mainly as fodder for building readership/circulation and for tossing raw meat to the gastronomical equivalent of those gawkers whom slow down at car wrecks in the hope of glimpsing blood and gore.)

I do take exception if you maintain that criticism, to be valid - to "matter:", must include both good and bad reviews. One can provide meaningful criticism while choosing only to spend one's column inches on positive experiences - pointing readers to restaurants that the critic believes readers will enjoy.

Edited by Holly Moore, 26 May 2008 - 12:26 PM.

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#24 TAPrice

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 03:32 AM

But I'm not aware of any serious print publication that shows articles in advance to the people it's covering and negotiates with them about what to include and not include.

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Isn't this common practice when U.S. glossies cover celebrities? Perhaps they don't allow the celebrity to make the final edits, but the subject gets to approve the writer and set limits on the topics covered.

A friend who writes for bigger publications spoke with the editor of a major, serious magazine about this (we're not talking the New Yorker but nor is this People). The editor said he spent half his time negotiating with the camps of celebrities for magazine's cover stories.

Not that I would like to see this practice spread.
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#25 Fat Guy

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 05:04 AM

But I'm not aware of any serious print publication that shows articles in advance to the people it's covering and negotiates with them about what to include and not include.

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Isn't this common practice when U.S. glossies cover celebrities?


It's a widespread and unfortunate practice, yes (it's called a "press-coverage contract"). And it's a good example of the distinction between serious and non-serious journalism.

There's no news value, opinion value or value of any kind -- other than pure entertainment -- to a standard glossy-magazine celebrity profile. It's on the level of an article on "Ten ways to flatten your belly for the beach this summer" and "What he really thinks of your new hairstyle." It has no real impact on anybody whether the celebrity's handlers negotiate that the question of her relationship with a given quarterback is on or off the table. Magazines do negotiate that sort of stuff, and that's one of many reasons why celebrity profiles are not serious. (I also hasten to add that negotiating scope in advance is not the same as showing drafts of articles to the subjects of those articles and allowing them to have input at that stage. In addition, the scenario under discussion here is not an interview -- it involves an issue of criticism, so refraining from criticizing would be like getting a call from Harrison Ford saying, "Hey, could you please not write anything about the new Indiana Jones movie?" Forget it. Not even the Enquirer would grant such a request.)

But if that celebrity actually does anything meaningful -- runs for office, commits a murder -- that's when real journalistic standards kick in. You won't find anybody negotiating then.

Bloggers, like all journalists, need to decide which camp they're in: are they celebrity profilers, or are they serious? If they want to be celebrity profilers, fine, there's plenty of room for that. But if they want to be serious critics and represent themselves as tellers of truth, arbiters of taste, and people to be relied upon to inform purchasing decisions, they won't let the subjects of their reporting, criticism, etc., push them around. And I think anybody who cares enough to ask these questions has pretty much already answered them.

(Amusing article from Slate on "celebrity journalism.")

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)


#26 Chufi

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 06:47 AM

But I'm not aware of any serious print publication that shows articles in advance to the people it's covering and negotiates with them about what to include and not include.

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In the Netherlands, it´s pretty much custom to show any piece or interview to the people it´s covering. And yes, this often turns into a negotiation process about what to delete and what to include. Not all press/media systems in all countries are equal :smile:

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But I'm not aware of any serious print publication that shows articles in advance to the people it's covering and negotiates with them about what to include and not include.

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Isn't this common practice when U.S. glossies cover celebrities?


It's a widespread and unfortunate practice, yes (it's called a "press-coverage contract"). And it's a good example of the distinction between serious and non-serious journalism.

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Like I said, showing articles in advance to the people it's covering, is common practice in the Netherlands, for serious magazines/newspapers etc.

And to clarify my point just once more: I never EVER contemplated lying on my blog. The fact that I had to write a (somewhat) negative review, and the way I discovered I felt about that, made me start this thread, in search of other bloggers' experiences with similar situations.

Some of the replies have helped me sort out my feelings about this and, most importantly, helped to put the situation in perspective for me (something I really need help with from time to time :laugh: )

#27 Fat Guy

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 07:01 AM

There are three things being discussed in relation to this tangent that has nothing to do with the scenario outlined in the topic:

- Negotiating the scope of an interview in advance. This is ethically objectionable, but it's common practice in soft media like celebrity-profiling glossies. An agreement as to scope does not mean the article is shown to the subject prior to publication.

- Fact checking. This is standard practice. Factual data -- age, spelling, direct quotes -- are confirmed, usually in a phone call with a fact checker. The article is not shown to the subject prior to publication.

- Allowing the subject of an article or interview to read it and negotiate changes. Again, I'm not aware of any serious journalistic publication that would tolerate this. And while I've heard several times now that it's common in the Netherlands, I'm not fully convinced given that there seems to be persistent confusion among these three different scenarios. But if it is common practice in the Netherlands or anywhere else, it's all the more reason that readers should not take the offending publications seriously.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)


#28 Chufi

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 07:32 AM

- Allowing the subject of an article or interview to read it and negotiate changes. Again, I'm not aware of any serious journalistic publication that would tolerate this. And while I've heard several times now that it's common in the Netherlands, I'm not fully convinced given that there seems to be persistent confusion among these three different scenarios. But if it is common practice in the Netherlands or anywhere else, it's all the more reason that readers should not take the offending publications seriously.

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I live here, and I have several friends working as journalists/editors for what we, here, in The Netherlands, consider serious journalistic publications. It's up to you if you find my comments about this convincing or not.

This thread is going some where I really did not want it to go. Discussing whether or not Dutch journalism can be considered serious, was not what I had in mind. This whole digression came about because I stated that if I were writing an article for a magazine about the chef I started the topic about, I would show him my article and some of the content could be negotiated, as is common practice in the country where I live.

In my mind, and this has been my experience with the blogging community, blogs do not follow quite the same rules as (paid) journalistic assignments for newspapers/articles. Even when one says that a writer should follow the same ethical guidelines for everything she writes, there is still the big difference that a blog is personal and completely my own responsibility (for instance, I now have the choice not to write about this guy and no one will know or care, whereas if this was an assignment for a magazine, I'd have to write the piece - if I wanted to make some money at least).

Blogging is what I was talking about in my OP (it's even in the thread title - in a forum about food on the internet). I'm sorry that there have not been more replies from bloggers, which is what I was looking for. But then, I know that in whatever world, online or real, one hardly gets what one is looking for, and the things you do get might in the end be of more value or interest.

#29 Tess

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 08:02 AM

I think different bloggers have different goals for their blogs

This to me is the most relevant thing in the thread so far. Steven's comments make sense, I think, but only if some form of "journalism" is a goal you have for your blog.


I agree with this. If you are writing about your discoveries in the culinary arena for people to share and enjoy, you are not aiming for any kind of completeness. You don't like something-- just leave it out. (As Holly says, what would be dishonest would be misrepresenting the experience you had.) I think you should just consider the audience you have in mind, and ask whether or not what you're writing is going to be useful to them.

As someone who constantly refers to blogs (and websites like this) for ideas, the one thing that really annoys me is when I realize that someone has soft-pedaled a negative experience, and I've tried whatever it was based on their word and wasted my time and money.

Your blog looks really nice. by the way.

#30 SobaAddict70

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 08:27 AM


- Allowing the subject of an article or interview to read it and negotiate changes. Again, I'm not aware of any serious journalistic publication that would tolerate this. And while I've heard several times now that it's common in the Netherlands, I'm not fully convinced given that there seems to be persistent confusion among these three different scenarios. But if it is common practice in the Netherlands or anywhere else, it's all the more reason that readers should not take the offending publications seriously.

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I live here, and I have several friends working as journalists/editors for what we, here, in The Netherlands, consider serious journalistic publications. It's up to you if you find my comments about this convincing or not.

This thread is going some where I really did not want it to go. Discussing whether or not Dutch journalism can be considered serious, was not what I had in mind. This whole digression came about because I stated that if I were writing an article for a magazine about the chef I started the topic about, I would show him my article and some of the content could be negotiated, as is common practice in the country where I live.

In my mind, and this has been my experience with the blogging community, blogs do not follow quite the same rules as (paid) journalistic assignments for newspapers/articles. Even when one says that a writer should follow the same ethical guidelines for everything she writes, there is still the big difference that a blog is personal and completely my own responsibility (for instance, I now have the choice not to write about this guy and no one will know or care, whereas if this was an assignment for a magazine, I'd have to write the piece - if I wanted to make some money at least).

Blogging is what I was talking about in my OP (it's even in the thread title - in a forum about food on the internet). I'm sorry that there have not been more replies from bloggers, which is what I was looking for. But then, I know that in whatever world, online or real, one hardly gets what one is looking for, and the things you do get might in the end be of more value or interest.

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I've refrained from entering this conversation because I don't consider myself a professional critic by any stretch of the imagination, although I do eat out fairly frequently and am somewhat opinionated.

A number of things will depend on the way you present your piece as well as followup. If you include a few positive comments to help mitigate the criticism, I doubt your friend will take it the wrong way [unless your experience was off-the-charts negative]. This is the approach I've taken in the past when it comes to restaurant criticism, not only on my own blog but also on this and other food fora.

Edited by SobaAddict70, 28 May 2008 - 09:34 AM.