Food journalists mull rules change to compete against amateur critics

Washington City Paper
The Association of Food Journalists’ current guidelines say “reviewers should wait at least one month after the restaurant starts serving before visiting.” Chris Shott notes that the AFJ’s guidelines haven’t changed since they were first written about 10 years ago — before the rise of TV chefs, social media or food blogs, which often post sneak-peak photos of restaurant interiors and full menus. “Long gone are the days when a restaurant didn’t see a packed house until a newspaper chimed in.”

Given that many professional food critics used to see themselves as the paid protectors of said diners—zealously guarding their culinary dollar against mediocre food and subpar service—are those who still follow the traditional timetable essentially fighting with one fork tied behind their backs?

AFJ executive director Carol DeMasters says her organization has asked the same question. “This will be a topic at the Association of Food Journalists annual conference in Charleston in October.”

Description of AFJ’s Restaurant Critic Panel scheduled for October 7:

Restaurant criticism revisited. We will discuss the ins and outs of restaurant criticism for today’s media environment. Who is reviewing? What are they bringing to the table? We’ll consider the new wave of restaurant coverage, starring a cohort of experienced restaurant critics — both staffers and freelancers. How do we work with and manage a small army of critics/writers/bloggers providing restaurant coverage for our wide world of publications? And how do we, as critics and publications, retain our authority and reputation?

> Earlier: Six journalists share their views on today’s food writing

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