Food Blogs: Good or Bad for Food Journalism

Lots of talk going on about blogs vs. print product and where the food media is headed. Despite one ominous answer—into a brick wall–there seems to be a little light shining at the end of the publishing tunnel. Especially when it comes to food journalism. Anybody with an appetite and a keyboard can create a blog and regurgitate their opinions online and that’s great for those who have time and energy to jump around the web and soak it all up.

Is that bad for print products? According to a new survey, a portion of gastronomy student Leenne Trivedi-Grenier’s Masters Thesis research (printed below the jump), a majority of respondents feel that reading food blogs increases their reading of print food journalism. I like to read food news and interact with other readers online, but there are times when I like to hold a magazine or cook book in my hand and see the words printed on a page and look at pretty pictures. However, I am old fashioned. Perhaps, you are young and free and get your food news off your Blackberry while you drive to work. What’s your web-to-print reading ratio?

New Online Survey Investigates U.S. Food Blog Usage
Consumers crave participation but still utilize traditional food media.
Over 1800 adult food blog readers in the U.S. in January 2008 participated in this
research which explores consumer food blog usage and its effects on print food
journalism. The survey was part of Leena Trivedi-Grenier’s Masters Thesis in
Gastronomy.
Within the survey, the average food blog user was a younger adult, typically female.
42% of respondents fell between the ages of 25 and 34, and over 72% of the
respondents were female. Most participants (61%) were married or in a domestic
partnership. The majority (71%) did not have children and were affluent, with 32% of
participants making more than $100,000 a year.
A majority of respondents felt food blogs had equally reliable information as print
food journalism. They also tended to read food blogs more often than print food
journalism. For example, 69% of respondents consulted print food journalism monthly
while 37% consulted print food journalism websites weekly. But 79% of respondents
consulted U.S. food blogs at least daily, if not multiple times a day, crediting their
increased usage to a food blogger’s candid writing style, diverse voice and range of
topics, as well as their approachable personalities.
However, most respondents still believe that print food journalism plays a valuable
role in the U.S. A majority did not feel that reading food blogs decreased their time
spent with print food journalism. In fact, 14% indicated that they now read more print
food journalism because of food blogs.
Food blogs are great at building a feeling of community among their users. Over 83%
of participants felt that a food blog builds a better community than print food
journalism. Some respondents attributed this to a food blog’s comment section, which
allows all users and the food blogger to interact and communicate.
But the survey revealed that a majority of readers rarely left comments on food blogs,
typically once a month or less. This suggests that respondents prefer to be “passive
participants” within a community that thrives on participatory communication.

About the survey: The U.S. Food Blog Reader survey is one piece of Leena Trivedi-
Grenier’s Masters Thesis research on the impact of U.S. food blogs on U.S. print food
journalism. The thesis was written as part of her MA in Gastronomy from the
University of Adelaide, Australia and Le Cordon Bleu.
The survey was originally promoted on 10 wide-ranging U.S. food blogs but
eventually appeared on at least 21 websites through word of mouth. It consisted of
thirty-eight questions, two open ended and thirty-six multiple choice, and was
completed by 1832 food blog-using adults who reside in the United States.

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