Thursday, April 22, 2010

Boycott Eater and its Advertisers!

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.


Eddie Lin said...

Interesting piece. I've had at least one photo (that I'm aware of) used by Eater LA without my permission. I emailed Kat Odell at Eater to credit my photo and she did. It still sucks that she wasn't proactive about asking permission. No link or anything except after I caught it.

I had a piece plagiarized by Hadley Tomicki of Grub Street LA (although only one food blogger who specializes in the SGV and believes in his delusional head that he's the next J. Gold vehemently disagreed, the rest of the food blogging community strongly believed I was plagiarized).

The only question I have is why did you link to the Eater LA post? It just give more traffic to the Eater LA post you have a problem with.

sku said...

Thanks for your comments Eddie. I remember reading about your issue with Grub Street.

Good question about the link, and it's something I wrestled with. You are correct that it's counter-productive in that it potentially adds traffic to their site (and thereby increases their advertising revenue), but I also thought that the natural reaction for anyone reading this would be to go find the posting I was referring to.

By providing a link, I figured that at least Eater will know that the people are following the link read my commentary first and may decide to join my boycott after seeing it for themselves.

SinoSoul said...

Believe Eddie is referring to me, except for the "wanting to be Gold" part. As sad as my job may be, I'm not one of the journalist/blogger turned TV star (or book author, whatever) hopefuls.

Anyway, Kat Odell's pix:

Lockhart circa '07:

Stalking Sifton at KFC is clearly a case of social media gone wrong. He told everyone he was trying it, and Eater, paying homage to TMZ, called him out. What's the poor guy to do for the rest of his critiquing career?

sku said...

Nice sleuthing on the pix Tony. I didn't realize Eddie was referring to you. Please, guys, no blogger cat fights in my comments.

Anonymous said...

Have a look at Kat's blog and watch the video for Chicken Parmesan. Too painful to watch. She is clear, however, that she aspires to be on television.
This is the editor for Eater LA?