Chowhound Presents: Table Talk with Michael Pollan of The Omnivore’s Dilemma Tenth Anniversary Edition

General Discussion

Reviewer Anonymity

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General Discussion 40

Reviewer Anonymity

Steven Shaw | Dec 3, 1998 03:35 AM

Jim introduced the topic of reviewer anonymity--about
which he is quite passionate--over on the Manhattan
board (in the Il Buco thread). It came up regarding
David Rosengarten, who writes New York restaurant
reviews for Gourmet magazine and also hosts two shows
on the Food Network. I think Jim is of the opinion
(I'm sure he'll let us know if I'm putting words in
his mouth) that appearing on TV should be grounds for
automatic expulsion from the restaurant reviewing
community.

I think the more important thing is that a reviewer
not deceive the public. If the readers know that this
guy is on TV, they can read his reviews with that in
mind. Although some objectivity (especially regarding
service) can be lost when a reviewer is recognized, it
is also possible for a recognized journalist to gain
additional knowledge that may be of interest to the
readers. I think it comes down to your mission as a
reviewer. If consumer protection is your priority,
anonymity is critical. Otherwise, it may not be as
essential.

There's also the problem of inconsistent results due
to sometime-anonymity and incorrectly presumed
anonymity. I don't know if Jim has ever been
recognized in a restaurant. I know I have, even though
I try to follow the usual procedures of reserving
under a different name, etc. I also have to assume
that, in some cases, a restaurant has recognized me
but allowed me to think that I am still anonymous.

Well, anyway, does anybody have any thoughts on this?

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