Do Food Bloggers Really Need A ‘Code of Ethics’?

When I was younger, I loved recess. Doesn’t everyone? The chance to get out of your boring, quiet classroom to run around and act like a fool for an hour! Every day, there were so many playground options – the swings, the play structure, the monkey bars. There would always be a group of kids playing dodgeball or kickball or tag as well. Even though I liked playing with my smaller group of friends, every once in a while I’d join in a group activity.

It seemed, though, that every time I participated in a group game, there were always rules I didn’t follow. Staying in the game too long, not staying in the game long enough, hitting the ball outside the lines. Inevitably, there was always one person creating rules from the sidelines, and after a while, it became too difficult to follow all the rules. After a while, it took all the fun out of the experience.

A few weeks ago, two food bloggers announced that they had created a ’food blog code of ethics’. When the website, and the list of ‘guidelines’ was announced, the food blogger community was all atwitter – literally. The Twitter messages sprang up like wildfire, some for the code, many who questioned the code. Who were the authors? Why did they feel the need to write code? How did they determine the list of ‘rules’?

As a food blogger, I’ve read the Association of Food Journalists Food Critics’ Guidelines, but I’ve always felt as though they didn’t really apply to me. I consider myself more of a food writer and enthusiast rather than a traditional food critic. I created my food blog because I didn’t want to follow someone else’s rules. Moreso, my favorite part of food blogging is getting to know the chefs and restaurant managers, rather than remaining anonymous, and I’m always happy to accept free drinks and meals!

This week, the community at eGullet released their own ‘food blog code of ethics’ as well, and I feel the need to take the same stance as I did with the previous ‘code of ethics’ (though I hold the eGullet folks to higher regards). First of all, I don’t think ethics can be acquired – you either have them or you don’t. Secondly, I feel a little left out of the process. Who are you, as a group of anonymous food bloggers, or just two food bloggers looking for more press, to develop a list of guidelines that you think I should follow? While I appreciate the suggestions, I think that the food blog arena, and the blogging community in general, is in a different sector than traditional journalism. When it comes down to brass tacks, the whole Internet blog-fest began with people who just wanted to write and voice their opinions without the restrictions of editors or publishers.

I say, let’s stick to freedom of speech across the board! Let bloggers write what they want, without being condemned for not following someone else’s guidelines. More power to you for observing either of the codes of ethics, but more power to you for having your own code of blogging ethics, food blog or not.