Digital vs Analog Food Writing Fight

There’s a two-front food fight going on right now. There’s the main war between print publications and their digital counterparts. The most recent casualty of that war is the closure of Gourmet Magazine. That’s not the only fight, though. There’s a surge in the ensuing battle of who will replace the dying food magazines, and the newest example is Eater’s new Food Blog Population Control.

Food Fight TankCondé Nast’s decision to close Gourmet comes as magazine ad revenues drop in all sectors. The main reason is timeliness- the internet is faster than print media, and in the news being first is vital. Does this mean online food news is winning? On the digital side you have your food porn at Tastespotting, specialized recipe sites like Rasa Malaysia and off-the-beaten-path reporting like Sinosoul’s recent Dean Sin World/Tastio post. These digital food news sources have cut food magazine’s market share. That said, many readers still get food news from the analog media company’s digital outlets like the LA Times’ Daily Dish. So the digital vs analog battle will continue.

Food Fight

Eater’s decision to offer money for blogger’s to shut down their blogs seems to be financially driven as well. Although Condé Nast couldn’t find enough money to sustain a fully functioning print publication like Gourmet, there’s still ad revenue out there from companies that want to reach foodies.

Like ants at a picnic, the online food sites are scrambling to grab scraps from the ad revenue pot luck. Eater, in particular, catches the daily eyes of most of LA’s biggest food lovers. They don’t, however, generate enough ad revenue (or other outside income) to truly compete with salaries to pay contributors and editors.

I wrote last year about the void in the online food market– the lack of a clear, single source for good food news, recipes and restaurant reviews (an ESPN.com for food). Eater is trying, Serious Eats is trying and all the while lone bloggers like myself are making it harder for them. I don’t know who will win the digital vs digital battle but we’re in the thick of it now and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

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7 Responses to “Digital vs Analog Food Writing Fight”

  1. sinosoul Says:

    FM,
    do not know if you read this “blurb” – to use “piece” would be giving too much credit – on LAist this morning? “Blame Blogs? Conde Nast Closing Gourmet & Other Titles”. Really hope the co-editor was posing a rhetorical question.

  2. foodmarathon Says:

    I didn’t but glad to see we’re all on the same page.

  3. mattatouille Says:

    There are many competitors for ESPN of food, but it’s too hard to cover it all without a wide network. Eater’s probably doing the best, followed closely by Serious Eats and Grubstreet. In order to gain dominance in digital food news, I think it’s about brand recognition, which is why I think Eater is the leader right now. That doesn’t make me happy though, as I think Eater isn’t doing an adequate job. Their national version is taking a straight shot at Serious Eats and Grubstreet, but the two latter sites are too NY-centric. If a site like FoodGPS continues to get SF and NY coverage, it could be a competitor too. I think it’s gaining momentum.

  4. foodmarathon Says:

    FoodGPS definitely is in a strong position. Professional journalism pedigree with tons of reviews and really interesting contributions from outside writers.

  5. Mary McGrath Says:

    It’s very sad to see the demise of so many fine magazines. Having been in ad sales for most of my waking life, I have seen the Titanic go down upon several occasions in my years working with print media. Once upon a time, ad agencies paid full rate card prices to reach a specific audience. Once rates became negotiable, all bets were off. The demise began there, and has continued. Ad revenues have deteriorated, and thus publications have shrunk. With the internet, content is available for free, further eroding the business model of publishing.

    People are still hungry for good writing, yet more and more publications can’t afford to hire writers. The years ahead will be challenging for any sort of print media. I wish us all luck.

  6. Favorite Posts From October 5-11, 2009 - Food GPS Says:

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