YorkBlvd’s Media Watch Goes National

Ξ April 19th, 2010 | → Comments Off | ∇ Beyond Northeast, Press |

Normally, this blog is dedicated to local, or at best regional, issues.  When it comes to local media, the Boulevard Sentinel gives us so much ammunition, we usually don’t even bother to play watchdog for The LA Times.  However, Mr. Topping has been avoiding plagiarizing local blogs and Gwyneth Paltrow hasn’t relocated us “off the map” to Riverside county yet, so we’ve had to look for media miscreants elsewhere.

The local angle is pretty thin, but since we’ve been known to whip out our cameras and snap a few food photos from time to time, we though we could justify tweaking the Times for their recent mimicry of the Gray Lady’s article on the explosion of food photography.

On 4/6 the NYT ran an article titled, First Camera, Then Fork, which investigated the growing neurosis of people who have to photograph their meals.  The article is an interesting exploration of what motivates people to photograph so much of what they eat.  When I first read this, I wanted to roll my eyes at the moron photographing his grilled cheese sandwich, but realized I’ve certainly been guilty of this from time to time.

Today, The LA Times ran an eerily similar story titled, Dinner Is the Theater as Food Paparazzi Converge.  The mere fact that two newspapers are covering the same fad wouldn’t be worth mentioning were the articles not so similar.  For example, from the 4/6 NYT story:

Indeed, the number of pictures tagged “food” on the photo-sharing Web site Flickr has increased tenfold to more than six million in the last two years, according to Tara Kirchner, the company’s marketing director.  One of the largest and most active Flickr groups, called “I Ate This,” includes more than 300,000 photos that have been contributed by more than 19,000 members.

From today’s LA Times:

Flickr, the photo-sharing website, has seen the number of pictures tagged as “food” jump from about half a million in 2008 to more than 6 million today, according to company officials.  In the group “I Ate This” on Flickr’s site, nearly 20,000 people have uploaded more than 307,000 images of their latest meals, from a 7-Eleven hot dog smeared with mustard to the butter dish at the Michelin three-star restaurant French Laundry in Yountville, Calif.

Both articles make mention of camera companies capitalizing on the trend by adding settings for food photographs, but more disturbing is that both articles use the same out-of-town source for an anecdote:

From The NYT,

Joe Catterson, the general manager of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, said that, increasingly, people can’t [resist the urge to photograph their food].  “One guy arrived with the wrong lens or something on his camera and left his wife sitting at the table for an hour while he went home to get it,” he said.

From the LAT,

Chef Gran Achatz allows only non-flash photography in his tony Chicago restaurant, Alinea.  He, like many chefs, finds himself torn between being flattered by the public’s enthusiasm and aggravated over the effect the picture-taking is having on the restaurant’s operations.

They’ve paid for the meal, so they think they can do whatever they want with it,” he said.

Los Angeles deserves better than two-week-old recycled pop-culture stories.  The Times’ editors owe us a mea culpa on this one.


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