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This announcement yesterday on the All We Can Eat blog raised some eyebrows among a couple of Young & Hungry readers, who wanted to know if Ezra Klein‘s new Food section column on “the policy and politics of the plate” was a slap at Jane Black‘s fine work covering food politics. Should she be worried about her future at the Post?
Klein is “going to do pointed analytical commentary on the politics of food,” says Joe Yonan, editor for both the Food and Travel sections at the Post. “I actually think that it will build off the things Jane will do…The two of them will tackle a topic together.”
Yonan imagines a two-pronged approach to certain subjects, in which Black would produce a reported piece for the Food section and Klein would write “something that is more pointed and analytical and opinionated, that pulls from some of the threads that she’s covering.”
Klein, a former American Prospect staffer who now cranks out a mind-boggling amount of blog copy on policy for the Post, approached Yonan about the idea of writing a food politics column. It was a smart pitch. Klein had already been writing occasional posts for the Internet Food Association.
“He has a good voice, and he has a following,” Yonan says. “I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if we put that in the section.”
“I think that the key is in labeling it and making sure that people understand where it’s coming from, that it’s a viewpoint,” Yonan adds.
Klein’s column will debut next week, and it will dissect Food, Inc., the already much-dissected documentary on America’s corporate food system. Yonan says Klein’s take is different from what’s already out there in the ether. In future columns, Yonan sees Klein taking on equally large subjects. “He’s interested in the way the Department of Agriculture is set up, and whether or not we even need one. That’s a viewpoint that I think you’ll see expressed at some point in the column.”
The only real issue Yonan has with Klein’s column is its name. As in: It still doesn’t have one. The paper’s food blog went fishing for names, and readers have sent in “a lot of really bad ones,” Yonan says. Those whoppers include “Food for Deep Thought,” “Eat Wave,” “Clue Plate Special,” and Y&H’s favorite of the poor players, “Eat, Think, and Be Worried.”
Yonan notes that at least two suggested names are under consideration. He prefers not to reveal them.
Name aside, should Klein’s column cause any concern for Black and her position at the Food section?
“No, absolutely not,” Yonan says. “This is no reflection on Jane’s job or her coverage of food policy.”
Photo courtesy of the Washington Post