Here in the City of Bridges, blogs are hot. Yes, a lot of them are just the same ol' online whine-fests one trips over from other cities, but more than a few homegrown sites break worthy news regularly, and an impressive number serve up constructive ideas for addressing issues du jour. One provocative breaking bit grew out of the recent love-fest in The New York Times about Portland foodie culture and the great chefs it attracts, written by wine expert Eric Asimov.
Writing About Writing, the blog maintained by transplanted New Orleans scribe Kevin Allman, cites personal connections between Asimov and the family that owns Paley's Place, a well-regarded, upscale restaurant in Northwest Portland. Asimov raved about Paley's in his food piece, causing blogger Allman to ponder:... It brings up a larger question about the slippery nature of food journalism in general. It's not uncommon for food and wine writers to be chummy with restaurateurs, sommeliers, chefs, farmers, etc. – just as it's not uncommon for political reporters to socialize with politicos. But when a restaurateur describes a wine critic as a "good friend," and the critic then goes on to praise the restaurant twice in two months in the pages of the newspaper and online – where should the line be drawn?
Allman does more than float his own take on ethical questions. He cites the NYT policy on such matters and has pledged to update the story once Asimov, who is traveling in Europe now, responds. Asimov replied tersely, and Allman offered follow-up questions.
A couple of other blog goodies:
Where other bloggers might just aim and fire, Loaded Orygun follows up with some handy post-combat aid. Once President Bush vetoed the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the feisty blog helpfully posted a clip 'n' save map of Portland-area emergency rooms, a.k.a. the only choice for medical care when you don't have insurance.
Bernie Foster, publisher of The Skanner, a 32-year-old community newspaper that aims to advance "the cause of the black press" in the West, put the Great Unspoken Notion into print:Maybe Portland should regulate bicyclists.
Among other things, Foster wonders about closing some streets to cars and mandating insurance for cyclists, two things that are sure to happen here eventually – particularly when well-read editorialists step up and offer proposals instead of pomposity.