There are some pretty outspoken people in the food blogging scene who apparently oppose accepting free meals in return for reviews, and publicly berate other bloggers who do this.
Some of those same people take freebies, and just don’t declare them. Or take them and don’t write a review at all.
This is something I have a problem with.
Alongside many other bloggers I know, I’ve regularly found myself having to justify my choice to take a complimentary meal because a restaurant or PR has asked me to review somewhere. Just because I didn’t pay for it, doesn’t mean I’ll lie about whether it was good or not. I also find myself pointing out the many reviews I’ve done of places I have paid for, purely out of appreciation of a good experience. I tell my readers when I haven’t paid for my meal, and I believe they have the intelligence to decide whether they trust my opinion or not.
I’m never one to stand with my hand out expecting a free meal from every new restaurant that opens, nor am I offended when other bloggers get invites that I don’t. If I really want to eat somewhere, I’ll go, and I’ll pay. I write for passion, not for reward.
Regardless of all this, bloggers seem to get a bad rap. We’re spoken about as though we’re all freeloaders that mass tweet companies in search of our next meal ticket, even by other bloggers. While there are some people who may do this, we’re not all the same.
I also want to point out that although bloggers don’t always pay for review meals, we put hours of work into our writing, to make sure we’re doing our dinners justice, conveying the positive, the neutral and the negative as honestly and articulately as possible. Clearly both readers and restaurants see the value in what we do, otherwise we’d all be obsolete.
In my humble opinion, I don’t see the problem with bloggers being offered complimentary meals when the restaurant or PR wants their honest feedback on the experience, as long as bloggers are honest and don’t allow their opinions to be bought or swayed.
For me, food blogs are an outlet for people’s passion, and a way to show appreciation for people who do a great job, not a place to ingratiate yourself with people who you think have status, or eat for free just because you can. I’m glad to say that nearly every blogger I know and work with is a genuine food lover that writes to spread the love for their favourite chefs, restaurants, bars and events, so I hope next time you’re reading a review post, you don’t tar us all with the same brush. Bloggers are humans too.