It’s not a big secret that I’m not a huge fan of the more institutional food blogs out there. My reasons are varied, with most of them boiling down to the fact that due to the constant need to churn out content, they end up lacking the sense of character and personality that one gets in a personal blog.
That being said, there are many writers out there whom I respect who happen to supplement their income by working these sites. So when I read yesterday that slashfood.com would be going away due to the content restructuring at AOL, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of sadness at the news. Having lost a job due to AOL restructuring myself back in 2001 (jeez, ten years ago!), I have a fair amount of empathy for the editorial staff and the freelancers who work hard to provide content on a daily basis. It’s a tough racket, this, and it’s never fun to lose a source of income, however marginal it may or may not be.
That being said, I have to admit that there’s a part of me that’s thinking “I told you so!”. When one chooses to write the fourth post in a week about the flavor of the month on the Food Network in order to make somebody else money, one must understand the risks involved. These risks include everything from sacrificing one’s personal voice to working under the belief that your investors are working for your best interest.
This is unfair, I know. The media landscape has been shifting now for over a decade and has shown no signs of settling. Add to this the recent economic environment, and choices have to be made back on the individual level, and inevitably one has to decide to do what’s best for them. Sometimes that means taking the risks mentioned in the above paragraph. When one chooses to be a food writer, this is reality that one faces, usually on an everyday basis. I’m no different. I have goals and ideas regarding food writing, but still find myself working full time for someone else. Yes, this makes me a hypocrite.
Here’s the weird thing for me – I didn’t get this reflective when Gourmet folded up shop, even though it’s the same event, simply repeating itself in the digital world. Perhaps I felt that the Slashfoods of the world were the answer. And now? Now I’m not so sure. And in an unstable environment, questions must be asked.
But that’s for tomorrow. Today, we remember the first institutional food blog that hit it big.
Rest in peace Slashfood. I didn’t think of you often, and read you even less. But when I did think of you, I believed that you could change the world for us food writers. I’m truly sorry it didn’t work out that way.
I’ll raise a glass for you tonight when I get home.