This is a topic I have been thinking about for quite a while and I hope that my line of thinking doesn't come across as too disjointed. What do you think our responsibility is, as food bloggers, to our readers and to local restaurants and the like? Do we have an obligation to be anonymous and to disclose any relationships to the organizations we blog about?
I think it all really started when I went to a new local establishment a few months back and the employee who was working there said "Oh, there have been bloggers coming through here all day." How do you know they are bloggers, I asked. He replied that sometimes it's obvious, and sometimes they just outright announce themselves.
I know that we don't all aspire to be like journalists, but I would say that to generalize, many of us are trying to do something that becomes a resource for people.
If we are to become a resource, then do we have an obligation to act more along the lines of journalists, who would stay anonymous and quiet while doing "research"?
For my part, I would hope that any blog review I read of a restaurant or product is based on an unbiased enough experience that I, as a complete stranger to the product, can go in and get a pretty close replication of the experience that I read about in a review. I also believe that food blog reviews on the whole won't be taken seriously by the food industry until we hash out these issues among ourselves.
Is this something that any of the rest of you have thought about? Under what circumstances do you actually announce yourself to a business as a blogger? And what about receiving free things - do you accept them or turn them down? Do you disclose relationships in blog reviews? What conclusions have you reached for your blog?