@RShotel Food Writers’ Conf: All of the Panels (Video Archive)

Is tradition in print food writing dead? The closing of Gourmet and the large number of jobs lost in traditional food magazines and newspapers suggests it is. If it is dead, what will replace it? And how can one make the alternatives financially viable? These were some of the questions that fifty-eight of America’s top writers, editors and agents addressed at the Roger Smith Food Writers’ Conference held last Friday, Saturday and Sunday (February 12-14). Twelve sessions and four workshops discussed the current and future state of food writing in newspapers, magazines, cookbooks, blogging, ezines, websites and ebooks. The main message was simple: The food writing field is in rapid transition and success now depends on adopting a multi-media approach to communicating ”“ including traditional good writing plus video, blogging and social media. Attendees were excited by the possibilities of the new media, but how to make these new media generate full time salaries for professional food writers remains unclear, and many attendees wondered if professional food writing was dead– and it would now just become a hobby for those interested in food.

Andy Smith

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From Websites to Blogs to Facebook
Food writing has progressed from tiny triangular marks impressed in clay tablets, stored in heaps in Mesopotamia, to much tinier magnetic impressions stored somewhere “out there” in cyberspace. Changes in the medium may change the message, but the goal is the same: writers want readers to experience their work””what’s different is that readers get to respond to writers more directly than ever before. Like it or not, food writing is not likely to change back to the one-directional medium it once was.
Gary Allen, chair
Irena Chalmers
Mitchell Davis
Bret Thorn
Laura Weiss

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TV and Beyond: The Future of Food and Cooking in Broadcast Media
Beginning with home economist-hosted programs in the 1940s, cooking on television has evolved over the last sixty plus years into a phenomenal industry and pastime. What does the future of food media look like and where/how will we view it? Who will be our guides? What will we be taught and how and what will we learn?
Kathleen Collins, chair
Geof Drummond
Joe Langhan
Dana Polan
Krishnendu Ray

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The Future of Food Writing on the Internet
This panel will explore how the continually changing, ever-evolving world of Internet technology is impacting food writers. Will technology make it easier–or harder–for writers to make a living? Will there come a time when a writer can completely sidestep traditional media and become successful, financially and critically? How will developing technologies impact–positively and negatively–the industry
David Leite, chair
Elissa Altman
Joe Langhan
Bonnie Tandy Leblang
Renee Schletter

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Blogs with Tweet Sauce:  The Future of Recipes

The Internet and television cooking shows have irrevocably changed the way cooks search out and use recipes.  How do we deal with the challenges of this new environment?  What recipes can we trust?  Is the on-line community fostered by recipe ratings of any value?  This panel will explore the future of recipes, their reliability, their validity as cultural documents, and their impact on how people learn to cook and go about preparing daily meals.
Lorna Sass, chair
Elissa Altman
Melissa Clark
Barbara Haber
Amanda Hesser
Sarah Kagan

Barbara Ostmann

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Powerful Potables
Calling all cork dorks and coffee geeks! How is the increasingly specialized world of beverage writing evolving? How have platforms like Wine 2.0 changed the playing field? If you already write about food, what tools & training do you need to expand into writing about wine and other potables.
Kara Newman, chair
Alice Feiring
Alan Kropf
Nora Maynard

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Good-Bye Gourmet, Hello Yelp!: The Changing Role of the Restaurant Critic
However much the media landscape has changed, people still want to know where to eat. This panel on restaurant reviewing will touch on the past, current, and future of restaurant reviewing. Emphasis will be placed on changes in the relationship between the reviewer and diners, the reviewer and media outlets, and the reviewer and the restaurant industry. The craft of reviewing restaurants will be explored in the context of other forms of cultural criticism.
Mitchell Davis, chair
Gabriella Gershenson
Irene Sax
Robert Sietsema

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Food for Thought: The Future of Academic Food Writing
Recent years have witnessed an explosion in academic food writing.  Food series have rolled off university presses and specialized and cross-disciplinary journals abound, all to sate the growing appetite for classroom materials and scholarly investigation.  This panel unites distinguished authors and editors in the academic world to assess where we are and where we might be going in this hot pot of academe.
Cathy Kaufman, chair
Ken Albala
Jennifer Crewe
Bruce Kraig
Marion Nestle
Andrew F. Smith

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Turning Your Life and Food into a Best Seller

In today’s world, food writing is everywhere– in newspapers, magazines, recipe headnotes, web sites, blogs and tweets. Much of it is informative and some of it pretty interesting, but not necessarily the stuff of literature. For that, readers turn to memoirs–some food based, some with food as a potent ingredient unveiling other lives and times. What distinguishes a food memoir and makes it fresh? These panelists will tell you how they did just that.
Judith Weinraub, chair
Monica Bhide
Kathleen Flinn
Betty Fussell
Mimi Sheraton

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Food Writing Profession: Current State and Future Prospects

Holly Hughes’ words, “Food has never been so high on America’s agenda ”“ are 21st-century food writers ready to meet that challenge?”  To open the conference, a panel of four food-writing visionaries will present the art of food writing historically, presently and in the future from their points of view. Molly O’Neill will discuss the changing context of American food writing, including food-travelogues to a social/political commentary on the world to legitimization of the nostalgia cult. In a more microscopic way, Holly Hughes will focus on the past decade in food writing. How do the lines between journalism and entertainment blur, considering celebrity chefs and television cooks who produce cookbooks? Where do food safety and health fall in the spectrum of food writing today? Then, with a macro view of the world of food words, Ray Sokolov will look into the future. He sees the future of food writing much like its past, only more so. Moderator Antonia Allegra will look at why food writers write, even in this difficult economy; and she will discuss the thrust of food writing for cookbooks and other culinary writing as it exists today.
Antonia Allegra, chair
Holly Hughes
Molly O’Neill
Ray Sokolov

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Surface or Substance: Food Writing in Magazines
What is the role of magazines in the food world today? Should they provide a practical guide to the kitchen, with plenty of recipes and useful techniques? Should they offer diversion through lifestyle stories and glossy images that make readers drool? Or do magazines have a responsibility to report on the ethical and political issues surrounding food in the twenty-first century? This panel of seasoned magazine editors and writers will explore the possibilities and limitations of food writing for magazines today.
Darra Goldstein, chair
Dana Bowen
Barbara Fairchild
Jane Daniels Lear
Jordana Rothman
Bret Thorn

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Cookbooks and the Cyber-Age?

This panel will examine the current state and highly uncertain future of cookbook publishing. Panelists will consider how shifting patterns in home cooking and restaurant dining are altering people’s expectations of cookbooks. They will also discuss the impact that television has already had on the American cookbook audience as well as the radical changes being brought about by new phenomena such as cyber-publishing, culinary websites, blogs, and online recipe searches.
Anne Mendelson, chair
Rux Martin
Molly O’Neill
Roy Finamore
Angela Miller


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Fight and Flight: the Newspaper Food Section of the Future

Fight and Flight: the Newspaper Food Section of the Future
A discussion of the evolution of food writing as newspapers take on the challenges of a very new day. The effect of RSS feeds; blogs; recipe websites; Twitter; the Food Network; and the turn away from print, on content, style, format, and even survival.
Cara De Silva, chair
Jane Black
Sylvia Carter
Kim Severson
Judith Weinraub


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