Measuring Spoons blog  
Measuring spoons by Donna

I'm heading to the Greenbrier Food Writer's Symposium today and very much look forward to it.  I was there several years ago and was impressed by the interaction and caliber of the work that happens there.  But at the time, the food writing world was as it had been more or less for a decade or longer.  Internet and publishing technology have changed all that.  So I'm most eager to hear how my colleagues view the changing order.  For instance, I'll be on a panel with Bill Leblond who publishes Chronicle's cookbooks (highly respected in the industry) and he said, in a pre-symposium phone call about our panel,"When I was there last time, I wouldn't have been able to recommend self-publishing a cookbook; what I would say today would be much different."

I may use this (I didn't have a blog when I was last there!) to discuss issues and news specifically about the changing landscape of food writing and publishing throughout the week.  My friend Russ Parsons, food editor of the LATimes and best-selling author, will be there.  When he was last there, his newspaper didn't have a blog either, now it does: Daily Dish. Yet newspapers may be undercut by the emergence of blogs and are in the news from coast to coast in their struggle to survive diminishing ad revenue—I'm eager to hear what's going on in the world of an old school newpaperman and his take on it all.  As I am interested in the magazine and book world.  Have a look at the speakers and let me know areas you'd like me to report back on while I'm here at the symposium.

And by the way, those are in fact my measuring spoons, above—I make a fuss when I visit my mom's kitchen and all I can find are boutiquey porcelain ones.  Use good standard metal measuring spoons!

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23 Wonderful responses to “A Measure of Food Writing”

  • radish

    Mr.Parsons, You have a wonderful food section. The only reason that I would give a thought to the demise of the LA Times is that we would lose the food section. The problem with the LA Times is that it is partial.

  • Russ Parsons

    I want to thank everyone for their questions and concern and thank Michael for inviting me onto his blog (he’s SUCH a nice young man). The issues around newspapers today are complicated and nasty and I don’t want to bore you with a long discussion of them. But there are a few points I think its important to keep in mind.
    1) the internet and newspapers area not antagonistic. In fact, at the LA Times they are a major part of our efforts. Rather than what is often portrayed as an Old Media/New Media cage match, I think they’re complementary. I scan the blogs pretty much every day, catching up on what’s new with my old friends (both real and virtual). And I know from reading them that they are looking at my Food section as well.
    As are a lot of other people: we average in the mid-six figures for page views every week (that’s for our food section alone). My e-mail address runs at the end of all my stories and I would bet that between 1/3 and 1/2 of all my e-mails come from internet readers outside our circulation area … people who wouldn’t be able to read my stories without the internet.
    In fact, the only problem we have with the internet is with internet advertisers, who still only pay a fraction of a percentage per reader what they would for print.
    I’ve gone on for too long (nothing like taking over the conversation at someone else’s party!). But I do want to leave you with a couple of curious tidbits and a final thought.
    The tidbits: Despite everything you might have heard, most newspapers are still profitable. it’s newspaper corporations that are in trouble because of irrationally exuberant borrowing, most of it over just the last 10 years. Also, newspapers are still popular: our print edition circulation is still over 750,000 on weekdays and when you combine it with our online readership, we’re probably reaching more folks than we were back in the glory days of print-only.
    And finally, since I’m here at Greenbrier and it’s all about the craft: I remain convinced that when all the business and technology shakes out–in whatever way it will shake out–people are always going to want to read good stories and there will always be a market for them.

  • Carol Peterman

    I am interested in hearing what types of discussions come out of the panel you are on discussing the evolving ways with food communication, and about the art of telling details. Looks like a great conference. I am attending the International Food Blogger Conference this weekend which should be great as well. http://ifbc.foodista.com/

  • Theresa

    Thanks, Michael. I would love a report on the first session “food writing for today’s avid reader.”

  • Carolyn O'Neil

    I want to know who goes bowling. So, since you were there the Old White Lounge is gone and replaced by a global fusion molecular gastronomy place? Not to mention the bankruptcy.
    But, I bet the gold standard hasn’t changed in value of Camp Greenbrier for food writers and editors attending. Wish I was there. Is it Wi-Bowling now?

  • rockandroller

    I’d be interested to find out what’s discussed in the indie publishing and freelance writing panels.

  • John Dennison

    This fellow “ruhlman” looks promising. Report back on him.

    Nice spoons!

  • carri

    I’m facinated by the change in Bill Leblonde’s tune over self publishing…is this because everyone and his brother wants to publish a cookbook or have the available resources really risen to meet demand? and, if you self publish, how do you distibute to a wide enough audience to make it worth your while? The panels at the symposium all look great, you must be very excited to be there…looking forward to some inside ‘dish’!

  • dadekian

    I think that comment by Mr. Leblond is very interesting. I’d like to hear more thoughts on that. Thanks.

  • Kim

    I would like to know how blogs and comments to blogs in newspapers’ food section have changed the dynamics of food reporting. For example, have newspapers revised their code of ethics to address the fact that blogs can so quickly damage reputations. Thanks, Michael! Kim

  • limoncello

    I used to look forward to the Wednesday restaurant gossip column in the SF Chronicle, but between Marcia Gagliardi’s Tapplehopper and EaterSF, that column is laughable. Newspapers need to find a way to be more nimble with their ever-shrinking budgets.

  • Tags

    What newspapers need to do is find an answer to craigslist.org and still make a profit. That’s what has been draining ad revenue from papers and placing them on the chopping block with a vengeance.

  • Angela

    Are food writers addressing the needs of many home cooks to economize, if so, how? Are foodies cutting back on the more expensive items at the grocery store, or eating out less and buying high priced, quality items to prepare at home? I would love to hear what all these food folks are saying about these things. Have a blast, btw!

  • Libby

    Awwwww…wish I had known this conference was happening less than 3 hours from home! (bookmarking the Greenbrier calendar to check back next year). Sounds like a great one – I’d like the panel to talk about how they think blogs and the local food movement will change food writing. Food writing has taken over fiction as my favorite writing genre to read (and write). Will blogs make it more popular? Will food writing become as popular as memoirs became a few years ago?

  • Russ H

    For years I used to have to use the crappy stamped tin ones that my mom would buy. Now I have a nice 18/10 stainless set that have rectangular ‘bowls’. This may sound like an artsy-fartsy thing, but its nice to be able to stick a whole tablespoon into a spice jar. Also, the rectangular bowls make it much easier to guesstimate a ‘half’ measure if necessary.

  • Natalie Sztern

    I am not an old school newspaperman but I thought I would always be one who needs the hardcopy newspaper in my hands to read with my morning coffee…I just cancelled my daily newspaper and have subscribed to the online version and I never thought that would happen because Montreal has only 1 English newspaper and I always felt an obligation, considering my first language is English, to keep it going…but it has become costly

  • derek

    what is wrong with porcelain? besides, i thought all spoons were supposed to be bad because you’re supposed to use a scale.

  • utenzi

    I’ve got metal measuring spoons like yours at home, Michael, but those fancy ones that your Mom has sound awfully appealing! Just kidding, of course.