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Your Five Cents: Do You Want to Read Posts About Free Meals?

Cartoon courtesy of
Cartoon courtesy of

Here is the scenario: a restaurant is new or changes a menu and wants to get the word out. Back in the day, they would have had to buy an ad (print or radio) or make a bunch of calls to writers and hope they would come in and try their stuff. Now media members are bombarded with opportunities to eat for free. Restaurants host elaborate media dinners and previews. They can contact a horde of blogs, websites, magazines, newspapers, and social media sites with one email. The chances are good they’ll pack the house and all it costs them is the price of the food and service.

To be honest, I’m not a fan of media dinners or running reports of them on SideDish. However, by sending a reporter to media dinner, we get an economical opportunity to see restaurants before they open, taste food, and take pictures. Hopefully, that report provides a service to you, the reader. It sure as hell provides a service to the restaurant. It’s a free ad for their business. I certainly don’t see many paid-for ads on the rails of SideDish, a discussion I’ve had with several restaurant owners. We all need to support each other to keep this party going.

I bring this up because yesterday Wes Wells reported on a gratis meal he experienced at Pakpao and a reader commented:  “Why don’t you just post press releases directly? Oh yeah, you wouldn’t get that free meal.” (I added the question mark he forgot to add.)

I’m conflicted. In one way, this type of report can be considered soft news with food porn. Does it serve the reader? I don’t know. Tell me.  Do you want to read this kind of content? If you were the editor, how would you handle the situation?  Drop kick me Jesus through the goal post of life, I’m listening.