The Eater websites, including Eater LA, Eater NY, Eater SF, etc., have long been the bottom feeders of the food blogging world. They traffic in gossip, rumor-mongering and celebrity watching like a food-world National Enquirer. They've even used one of my own photos without credit (which raises questions about both their ethics and taste - since my photos largely suck). And they do all of this without any apparent interest in actual cuisine.
All of that would be at most a minor annoyance, but this time, Eater has gone too far. Earlier this week, they published photos of the nation's most prominent food critics, many of whom pride themselves on their anonymity. This ridiculous "news item" does an immense disservice to restaurant consumers. Even in this day of Yelp, Chowhound and countless bloggers, there needs to be a place for the professional food critic, a knowledgeable journalist who takes multiple meals under the cloak of anonymity in order to make reliable recommendations to the public.
The issue is less crucial for someone like Jonathan Gold who, over the last few years, has appeared to have largely shed his anonymity. Once a critic goes public, they are fair game for the press. Publishing a photo of the new New York Times critic Sam Sifton, however, is an entirely different story. Not only is Sifton anonymous, Eater apparently lied in wait for him while he was eating in order to sneak a photo, prompting Sifton to label them the "geek paparazzi." And kudos go out to Lee Klein and our own Irene Virbila for managing to completely avoid Eater's prying eyes.
Some may argue that many restaurants already know what the critics look like and what tricks they use, but if that is so, then I would like to know what value this post had to anyone. The fact is, Eater is doing restaurants a favor at the expense of us, the eating public.
I have no use for a food blog that would so grievously undercut the interests of consumers, so I say BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT. Don't read Eater and don't buy its sponsors' products. Better yet, maybe we should post pictures of Eater editors Raphael Brion, Greg Morabito, Amanda Kludt, Katherine Odell, Lesley Abravanel, Eva Hagberg, Ben Leventhal and Lockhart Steele, so people can follow them around with cameras.