Larissa Dubecki is, as I’m sure almost all of you are aware, the No.1 restaurant reviewer for The Age.
In a comment piece she has let fly in spectacular manner about food bloggers, rampant compromising and basically all the general all-round sleaze she can fit into her magnificent rant.
Here are just a couple of the paragraphs:
“You see them on blogs the next day with really enthusiastic write-ups about how fabulous the venue, the food, the drinks and the owners are (always, mind you, with a little disclaimer at the bottom about how the writer attended as a non-paying guest – their integrity is scrupulous).
I’d love to go (I might even get my face in the social pages!) but, alas, there simply aren’t enough nights in the week. When everyone else is off having their fun, boring old me is off trying to slip into a restaurant unnoticed under a fake name so I might appraise it from an objective point of view to give consumers the best advice about where to spend their hard-earned. How about THAT for a shit sandwich.”
You can read the whole thing here.
Actually, I agree with many of her points.
And if the “Melbourne food blogger who is well known for approaching newly opened restaurants for a feed in return for a ‘review'” she refers to is who I suspect, then I share that disdain.
But, oh dear, she’s taken such a broad-brush approach.
It’s simple – not all food bloggers are the same.
Consider The Sauce regularly covers restaurants in the west that are extremely unlikely to ever gain coverage in The Age.
As well, while the writer may grumble about the “shit sandwich” she is so unhappily forced to eat, she works for a commercial organisation that accepts advertising moolah from all and sundry and which no doubt makes all sorts of deals along the way.
The Age and Fairfax are in the marketplace.
Such a high-handed approach would only make perfect, irrefutable sense if Epicure and The Age Good Food Guide carried no advertising whatsoever.
But they do.
And while The Age may be scrupulous about always paying for meals it reviews, is it such a stretch to mention the “media passes” its sports writers utilise to gain non-paying access to AFL games and much, much more?
The Age is also listed as a “partner” on the website of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. The nature of that partnership is not disclosed, but naturally the newspaper can and does run heaps of stories about the festival.
As well, such a sweeping put down fails to acknowledge the good work that many of Melbourne’s food bloggers do.
This fact, by the way, is periodically acknowledged by The Age and its Epicure section themselves.
Indeed, they have helped Consider The Sauce itself on a number of occasions and I remain very grateful for that assistance – including two stories on the fabulous Westies: Dishes of Distinction!
Perhaps if I am to worry, the very real prospects of becoming an unemployed journalist should occupy my mind.
Truth is, though, the idea of becoming considered a flogger is much more troubling!