Meanwhile, back in food blog world… Susan Smillie, editor of The Observer website tells me about the forthcoming launch of Word of mouth a food blog from the Observer Food Monthly magazine. I think if any of the UK newspapers – and the US ones for that matter – have a chance of getting a food blog right, it’s the Observer. Alors, Susan says,
"Our first and rather unglamorous aim is simply to find our feet in the food blog world – as newcomers, we’re being very careful not to set ourselves up as the authority, although we will have various experts contribute and draw on our print product and contributors. I want to make the food blog a place that is properly welcoming and interested in reaching out to its community. It won’t just be about industry people or celebrity chefs, although we will include both, but I’m more interested in creating an unpretentious place for all people to gather and talk about food – from dining out to eating in, exchanging recipes, to food and wine gossip. I envisage a blog where you could drop in to find Jay Rayner and Heston Blumenthal discussing whether old media sensationalised molecular gastronomy, and at the same time, a couple of folk swapping their favourite sandwich fillings. We’ll invite readers to blog regularly, have events, run podcasts, and video … "
The blog is slated to go live this Thursday, 24 May.
I hope that the majority of the content is original and not just pulled in from the mag. I suspect Jay Rayner has the makings of a very good blogger, but time will tell. I’m told the blog design isn’t finished yet and apart from the sausage, it looks the same as all the other Guardian blogs. I hope that changes. However, what is particularly interesting about Susan’s comments above, and
what makes the possibilities for this old media food blog that much
more dynamic, is in the final sentence.
We’ll invite readers to blog regularly, have events, run podcasts, and video …
How will they invite readers to blog? Off the top of my head, this could open the mag up to a whole lot of niche regional content that the printed version couldn’t hope to accomodate once per month. And then there are "events".
If OFM can also use the blog to foster an offline life in that weird world without laptops and statcounters then I think they could really be onto something. Tastings,
cooking shows, workshops, lectures, films, flashmobs, tastemobs(?), competitions etc. Food bloggers make up a tiny, if obsessive, proportion of a magazine’s
readership. OFM needs to have far broader appeal than just other food bloggers – even if it’s the obsessives that drive much of the traffic to the blog.
I can’t think of an old media food blog that is a) much cop or b) gets any interest from bloggers, let alone normal people. Diner’s Journal, Grub street and possibly Between meals are notable exceptions. Whatever OFM does I hope they don’t do a Food & Wine or a Bon Appetit
– one of which accepts comments, while the other is barking in a
very lonely shed – no offence Hugh and Andrew from Bon Appetit, both
of whom are charming and were an absolute pleasure to spend time with in Toulouse
recently – more on that soon…
And, in the way of these things… I should disclaim that I was invited to a
meeting at The Observer about this blog in October last year. I’m
also talking, talking, talking with other old media outlets about
working on other foodcentric blog projects. Nothing signed or sealed
anywhere, so I’ll keep schtum. Suffice to say, I am still open to