The Cake is big enough

Vor ein paar Tagen (sorry für die Verspätung) habe ich hier über die Veränderung des Journalistenberufs anhand des Beispiels Foodblogs geschrieben. Auslöser war ein Text über Foodblogs im Zeit-Magazin. Daraufhin meldete sich die in diesem Text von Wolfram Siebeck angesprochene Meeta K Wolff , die das Blog What’s For Lunch Honey? betreibt, bei mir. Ich zitiere hier aus ihre Mail, weil ich ihre Position sehr interessant finde:

Now that I have read Siebeck’s article I have to say it amuses me (and please do not take this as an arrogant comment) to read his thoughts on food blogs and food bloggers. It showed that unfortunately Mr. Siebeck did not do his research, very well, but chose to fall back on the typical clichés instead. Therefore, it really makes me happy to hear voices who take a different stand, like your own, and make their opinions heard.

(…) Mr. Siebeck’s comparison to the WWW being an electronic form of the Speaker’s Corner was spot on. And it is this corner that food bloggers have found to showcase their talent. When I first started, food blogging was a very small corner of the WWW, but five years later I see an immense shift and this corner has expanded into an extremely huge and valuable platform. Not only the food industry, but also magazines, ad agencies etc. have taken notice of this shift and have begun to use this platform for marketing an promotion purposes. Why? Because bloggers have a very strong voice, they are respected and they have the direct reach to the real „consumers“ – the target group companies want to reach out to. This is revolutionizing not only the food world but also the entire concept of marketing, advertising and promotion.

In his article, Mr. Siebeck generalizes and reduces blogging as a pastime for retired editors or bored and well situated housewives. I had to laugh at this as he uses this banal stereotype and yet contradicts his article by using two food blogs as examples which could not be furthest from his projected stereotype of blog writers. Firstly, many food bloggers have regular „real“ jobs – as lawyers, corporate managers, writers and in my own case I work at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar working as a coordinator for PHD students in structured PHD programmes. A job that fulfills me on many levels. What I do on What’s For Lunch, Honey?, my writing, my photography and recipe developing, is my form of creative release. Some play golf I blog! If Mr. Siebeck had done his homework or even cared to interview me he would have realized this fact. Furthermore, he would also have been enlightened by the fact that I am indeed a trained hotelier and have trained and worked in the kitchen of one of the finest luxury hotels of the world.

Food bloggers do not see themselves in competition with the professional writers, journalists or photographers nor are they looking to replace such qualified professionals. What we do comes from our passion within rather than for monetary reasons. Food bloggers are real people, who have a lot of talent and blogging enables us to finally display this talent and creativity to a wider audience.

However, just like there are many professional writers, journalists and photographers and only a selective few make it to the top levels, in the same way there are countless number of food blogs, but only a few really move on to becoming recognized for what they do. Therefore, Mr. Siebeck’s generalizing of all food blogs is like comparing Jane Austin to Jackie Collins. It just does not work like that.

Professional writers, journalists and photographers specialize in their specific fields, which shapes what they do and how they do it and the same applies to food bloggers. Some are stronger writers, while others forte might be photography or recipe developing and this shapes the way their blog is oriented. So there are blogs that only specialize in recipes, others have long stories to tell and others focus on depicting their images and others still will review products.

Food bloggers rely on their skills to advance and find a standing on this platform. As a food blogger, I develop recipes, cook them, test them, then I move on to styling my own photographs and taking the pictures and then write a story that fits the mood and finally I market the blog and the post accordingly. I do not have the luxury of an entire team to do this for me.

Selecting Delicious Days and What’s For Lunch, Honey? as examples in his article was quite interesting because both are extremely popular and recognized blogs. Delicious Days author Nicky is successful and highly respected for what she does. Her blog was recognized by the Times as one of the coolest blogs and she has just completed her second book.

What’s For Lunch, Honey? has also made a successful niche for itself in the food blogging community. It was recognized as one of the world’s top 50 blogs by the UK Times in 2009 and was one of the top five finalists for Best European Blog at the Weblog Awards in 2010. Through the blog I am able to share the creativity I possess and my blog has helped me to develop and hone my photography and writing skills further. And what’s more I am giving back what I have learnt – I now speak at conferences in Europe on the topic of food photography and styling and this year, together with three other very talented food bloggers, we have organized a food photography and writing workshop to be held here in Weimar, Germany in May 2011. The workshop is sold out and bloggers from Canada, USA, South Africa UK and Europe will all be attending From Plate to Page to learn and improve their own skills.

My point with this is – for bloggers the moon is the limit. There are no constraints or deadlines to meet, we can allow our passion and talent to flow freely. Our blogs provide us the freedom to paint the picture we want to or write the story we choose to. The good and talented bloggers advance to becoming recognized, get cookbook deals or work on photography projects or plan workshops – there are many prospect channels for a blogger to enter.

Thankfully, the cake is big enough for everyone to grab a piece – if they want to.

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