New! A Word or Two About Blogging
Since I occasionally talk about brands on this blog, I thought it was a good idea to address the issue of food blog ethics.
This blog is totally sponsor-free. But I think it's important to showcase brands that I use and like, especially when they are based in Wisconsin or Michigan, my home states.
As a trained journalist - I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Journalism Bachelor of Arts (JBA) degree in 1983 - I know better than to accept material items in return for a glowing review.
There was a time when, working as a newspaper reporter, I never accepted anything beyond a glass of water from a source. Having said that, I will note that on occasion, the subject of my feature stories often sent me flowers after a particularly compelling article I'd written. I felt uncomfortable at first, then I realized it would have been ungracious of me to reject these thoughtful gestures.
Sometimes people just want to do something nice for someone else. I understood that. Besides, I like flowers!
I did, however, return a gift certificate from someone I did not know. People I did know sent me things, too, and because I knew them prior to writing the story, I generally accepted them. They were small items: A scarf, a CD - things people knew I liked. Still I felt a bit guilty.
I have mixed feelings about bloggers who accept food, money, sponsorships, etc. I was absolutely appalled to see a well-known niche blogger try to raise money through crowd sourcing a year or so ago. I was still more appalled - if possible - when I learned that some style bloggers, in an attempt to appear successful, might actually imply they received items they in fact purchased with their own money.
I admire professional bloggers who make a living from their blogs, but I will probably never be more than a rank amateur.
But, in the interests of transparency:
On two occasions, I have reviewed books for this blog, but only when the books fit the blog's theme. In this post, this one and finally, this one, I made recipes from Great Lakes ships, where my father earned his chops as a chef. I also reviewed this book of Paris history and photographs.
On only on occasion did I accept a freebie from a company, and that was here.
Some bloggers write sponsored posts or in some other manner represent a food label or other organization that promotes food, a trade group, for example. Were I approached to do this, I would make a decision on a case-by-case basis. I would have to feel pretty passionate about a product or service to say yes.
I'm small potatoes and unlikely to strike it big in the blogging world. When I started blogging in 2006, only a few social media sites existed and only a few bloggers used them with great skill. Most of us started out recording recipes for family and friends. In addition, I wanted to learn blogging techniques so I could share with my college freshman and sophomores to whom I taught print journalism basics.
About a year after I began blogging, I took a job that required all of my emotional and intellectual energies, and my posts became fewer and less about food (those that were repetitive have been deleted).
Life intervened. I was also dealing with several family illnesses at the time, and a work-related injury of my own. Frankly, if I didn't post about it, I cannot recall much of what I ate during that time.
While I was gone, blogging changed. People who blogged for fun began blogging for money, serious money, if some of them are to be believed.
Six months ago, I pondered shutting this blog down. I'm glad I didn't. The couple hundred visitors I get each day, many of whom are friends, are what has encouraged me to keep going. I still find great satisfaction doing this, and learning things in the kitchen and in life that I never knew before.
While I was on hiatus from serious blogging, the Federal Trade Commission imposed ethical standards for bloggers. Since late 2009, bloggers must disclose items received at no cost and sponsorships.
I would do that anyway. But sometimes I worry that when I talk about a specific brand (usually one from Wisconsin), someone will get the wrong idea.
No one pays me for anything I do on this blog. Yes, I use Google Ads, but I won't get rich off that mechanism. I think my last payment was in 2008.
I sometimes link to other bloggers here. I try to link only to high-quality, well-respected bloggers who have displayed high ethical standards or Web sites that offer concrete information about food, food prep and kitchens. And Wisconsin brands, of course.