“I try to live up to my standards and not sink down to my principles.
– paraphrase of an old movie quote that I can’t quite remember, but it fits…
Buenos Aires – The blogosphere is abuzz, yes abuzz I tell you. First it was a week or two ago’s big kerfuffle over Dr. Vino calling out the Wine Advocate on writer Jay Miller accepting all sorts of freebies on his trips, things that Robert Parker specifically claims he doesn’t allow for himself or writers in his magazine. Initially there was denial from the WA camp, circling the wagons, and then there was silence. The momentum built as some (believe me, nowhere near all) of the stuff got publicly revealed, with evidence to back it. At that point, Parker had no choice but to respond, and he did, basically saying that neither he nor his guys would have anything to do with the organization down here that sponsored the trip anymore. And, lashing out at his critics, whom he lumped together as “blobbers”, as he chooses to call bloggers (he said it, I didn’t), and likening us to a cabal of jihadists out for blood. While I like and respect Parker, that was just crap, and unworthy of him. But the whole thing called attention to “ethics” of bloggers and journalists, and everyone and their mother started to weigh in on the subject, with some of the more prominent wine bloggers calling for “everyone who blogs about wine must state their code of ethics openly on their blog”.
This week, the buzz is food bloggers. Don’t know if there was a precipitating factor, but a couple of bloggers decided to create a website called Food Ethics, and, surprise, surprise, a Food Blog Code of Ethics to which they, upfront, state they’re simply doing to “draw attention to food bloggers who hold themselves to a higher standard”. Now, every food blogger out there is oohing and aahing over it. We have a code, oh joy, no one can criticize us anymore, see, there it is….
Hogwash, Balderdash, Bullshit…. if I may use those terms, and I apologize if I offended anyone with any of those words, but this is just nonsense. Here’s the thing. I’ve been a journalist, no wait, I still am, I write, openly, for magazines and newspapers in various spots around the world. And I often get paid for that. When I write for them, I am, as far as I am concerned, completely beholden to accepted journalistic standards, loose as those may often be. In those fora you can count on my journalistic integrity.
My blog, as I’ve stated often enough in posts, in response to comments, in e-mails, is nothing more than an online diary about my food, wine and travel adventures and whatever else I feel like posting about. No one, really, no one, gets to hold me to any standards. If I wanted it to be an online “journal” with journalistic standards, I’d charge you guys a subscription fee and get paid, probably not much, to do this. Last I checked, I pay for this site and can pretty much do what I want with it.
Now, some of what they state in their code is just fine – I mean, my blog is about as far from anonymous as it can be – I’ve got a picture, a bio, many of my readers have been to my home, they know where I live and work, so to speak. But no, I’m not going to promise to be civil, other than as civil as my mom and dad raised me to be, and sometimes I may step outside of that – not often because it’s not my style, but sometimes. Revealing bias? Gifts? Comps? Conflicts of interest? Maybe, depends, I usually do say something if I got something for free or if I’m friends with a chef or whatever it may be, but nope, don’t promise to do so. In terms of what they consider to be “the rules of good journalism” – yeah, fine – not because of the code of ethics, but just because I respect other writers and photographers out there and if they wrote something or took a photo, and I’m using it for some reason, I’m giving them their props. And I ask for and hope for the same. Common courtesy, not a professional code.
So, in sum, I’m not subscribing to the codes of ethics proposed by any of the bandwagon hopping, flag waving, cheerleading crowd on either the food or wine blogging side. All that speechifyin’ just reminds me of one of those high school or college organizations where someone in the corner starts whining about how we have to have rules, how we can’t just go do things, and in order to shut them up, everyone sighs and raises their hand to approve the charter or the code or the procedural manual, and pretty soon, kills the organization.
So, here’s what you get from me – I promise to post my opinons, speculations, researches, conjectures, etc. about whatever I feel like doing so, and, to do my best to keep it entertaining. Totally subjective, no pretense at objectivity. Anything else, any expectations, standards, ethics, rules, or the like – just be clear that they’re yours, not mine.
I imagine at least a few of you will manage to live with that.