When is a ‘guide’ an impartial publication to help a diner find the best place and when is it merely a vehicle for paid listings?
Can recommendations be trusted if money has passed from venue to publisher? Can readers rely on the professionalism of editors, who are often removed from the commercial functions of a publishing business, to act with integrity?
It was interesting to see this issue aired, not by the publishers or journalists I generally hear from, but by one of those who get written about in these publications – by a venue asked for cash for its inclusion for the first time.
The Northern Snippet blog explains the dilemma and wonders if a decision against payment could change a venue’s standing:
“Last year,for the first time in its 28 year history,the guide introduced a charge for featured pubs. At the time we hummed and hahed over whether we should stay in the guide,then a twitter friend commented that if we thought it was good PR for the pub we should just stump up the cash and stay in.
So we did.This year we didn’t really give it much thought,the invitation to be included arrived and we sent off the payment.”
The blog then goes on to describe the way a previous County Dining pub of the year has fared under the new scheme.
The discussion has already prompted some heated debate but what do you think? If you’ve an opinion on the topic of paid insertions, the Northern Snippet would love to hear from you.
I’m left wondering whether the old-style guide can ever hold its own in a digital age – doesn’t the prevalence of food blogs, review sites and social media makes for a more rounded and reliable recommendation system anyway?