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Allow me to begin this letter with an apology: I’m sorry for not writing earlier. Over the weeks, I’ve become a huge fan of your renegade editorial approach of poaching other people’s content and reposting it on your Web site for fun and profit. You are leading food writing bravely into the 21st century, proving that a business model in which you actively sabotage and exploit the working media can lead journalism out of its Dark Ages.
I’m specifically writing to applaud your recent attempt at investigative reporting, under the headline, “Anonymous Restaurant Critics: A Field Guide.” It was a masterstroke of public service journalism. I can’t think of a better way to help diners in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington D.C. than to arm restaurateurs with photos and inside information on critics so that owners can game the system and ensure that customers continue to pay hundreds of dollars for meals and service that only Sam Sifton and Jonathan Gold can receive.
Even better, your unmasking of the public’s trusted sources of independent food criticism was an expansion of your earlier, fumbling attempts to give the hospitality industry an upper hand in this terrible economy. What started as a sloppy kiss to Dallas restaurateurs has turned into an orgy where you play the submissive bottom for the entire country’s well-heeled restaurant owners. Could a Beard Award be far behind?
Politically, Eater.com is on the cutting-edge of modern thinking, standing arm-and-arm with the country’s best minds, like Sarah Palin and members of the Tea Bag Party, who believe the media cannot be trusted and their power must be neutralized by any means necessary. Your steadfast beliefs even filter down to the humble food blog community, those misguided souls who write about cooking and restaurants for the sheer love of it. Bravo to you for taking your jackboot and stamping out this democratic surge of public commentary. This is a great purge worthy of Stalin.
I can only hope that we will see more of this anti-populist work in the future. Might I suggest a take-down of lowly independent food truck operators who litter our streets with their pathetic attempts to feed us affordable snacks? Or expose a working critic while trying to do his job? Or maybe pushing moribund independent restaurants over the edge by publicly cataloging their struggles?
I know I’m not alone in saying this: But I hope that we’ll one day live in a world in which Web aggregators with a desperate need for cash dominate public discourse. It will no doubt raise our collective journalistic standards to Eater.com levels, and that’s good for everyone — unless you’re a food critic, restaurant diner, or blogger. And who cares about them?
Young & Hungry