Food critics group updates its guidelines and ethics code

The Association of Food Journalists has updated its guidelines and ethics code “to address issues emerging in the digital age, such as the challenge of maintaining anonymity and competing with bloggers.”
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The group acknowledges that “true anonymity is often no longer possible” but restaurant critics “should engage in the practice of anonymity [and] that means keeping all social-media profiles photo-free and restricting public appearances.”

What should a critic do if he or she is recognized and the restaurant sends food to the table? “Request that the cost of the items be added to the check,” AFJ advises. “If such an incident occurs, it should be acknowledged in the review.”

UPDATE: Check out this story about a New York critic’s behavior in a three-star restaurant in Spain: “[She] made it very clear who she was, even put her notebook on the table, and proceeded to gorge her and her boyfriend on free food. The owner hovered over her, more free wine, etc. I was thoroughly disgusted, and told her so, after I paid my tab of $400 for two.”

AFJ’s release:

Association of Food Journalists Updates Critics’ Guidelines and Ethics Code

ATLANTA – The Association of Food Journalists (AFJ) has issued revised versions of its Food Critics’ Guidelines and Ethics Code.

AFJ’s Ethics Committee completed the revisions in order to address issues emerging in the digital age, such as the challenge of maintaining anonymity and competing with bloggers. Also, the new documents offer fresh guidance on handling common situations, such as being invited to a media dinner or free food sent in a restaurant, and are intended to apply to food writers who write for a variety of different print and electronic media.

“One of the main reasons that AFJ was founded in 1974 was to promote ethics in food journalism, and it’s important that we continue to advance ethical standards in a changing world of food journalism,” said AFJ president Debbie Moose. “We wanted to make sure that our guidelines took into account today’s technology and trends in food writing. Thanks to the committee members for all their hard work.”

The AFJ Food Critics’ Guidelines were originally released in 2001 to offer suggested best practices for critics, aspiring critics and editors. The AFJ Ethics Code was released in 1975 with the ultimate goal of protecting members’ integrity and preserving their credibility.

* Food critics’ guidelines (afjonline.com)

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