Readers of this blog know that I'm highly critical of Elizabeth Large, 36 year food critic for the Baltimore Sun. Many people in this town no longer think too highly of The Sun and Ms. Large is an example of why the quality of journalism in this town has eroded over the years. Instead of getting better, demanding more and pursuing excellence in her 36 years, she's become the definition of mediocre food journalism and a joke to everyone that I know in Baltimore's restaurant industry - although everyone is universally afraid to state that publicly for fear of retribution via her reviews. Such is the power of the Critic of Record...
Recently, she asked her blog readership to seek out new and unheard of restaurants - not to tell her about them for a legitimate review, but rather to visit, eat and write the review for her blog, essentially eliminating her need to do anything while still taking the credit.
In return, I wrote something to the effect of: "If I write, do I get paid?" and "Far be it for Large to do the work herself."
True to form, Ms. Large deleted the offensive post, but not before it was up there long enough for some of her "sandbox" readers (that's what they call themselves) to see it and get riled up over it. Note: those that consider themselves part of the "sandbox" are scarily similar to those who identify themselves as Rush Limbaugh's "dittoheads".
Anyway, in the comments, Large finally took her gloves off:
"That's the real question: Why does he keep coming back? Why is he so unpleasant? I've asked him not to post here, and I always just delete his comments, so why does he waste his time? EL"
This blog is a community. No one has to play who doesn't want to. I, too, don't get paid to work 24/7 on it, but I do because I enjoy it. But if you do want to try your hand at reviewing, or at least suggesting a restaurant we should cover, we'd like to hear from you. (However, Jay C. isn't allowed to comment on this blog.) EL
I'm not "allowed" to comment to her blog. Isn't that cute? How ironic it is that the critic of record for the Baltimore Sun censors those whom disagree with her? Freedom of the Press - Yes. Freedom of speech - No.
As readers of this blog have noted, I have always been open to critical comments and dissent on this blog - especially when posted by non-anonymous individuals. Have something to say? I welcome it - just put your name to it. Curiously, Elizabeth Large doesn't subscribe to the same level of openness and transparency and Baltimore's food scene suffers.
Here's the response I posted to the Dining@Large blog:
A funny thing....
I'm at FedEx when a restaurant industry friend calls to ask me what I wrote that got the people at Dining@Large all riled up. To be honest, I couldn't quite remember. Was is the comment about the owner of Sam's Kid not bothering to bus her tables or run food for the three hours we were there?
Then, as this friend started reading the comments to me over the phone, I started to laugh. I had forgotten the two line quip I had left regarding you asking the
"sandbox" to write the articles. Never mind feeding you the news of the new (or unheard of) restaurants and you going to do the reviews - just get the sandbox to do the whole kit and caboodle and all is well. Sorry, but I can't regard that as respectable journalism - or journalism of any sort.
So I took the time to dig up the post in question and read the comments herein. Your loyal following is certainly riled up and I don't blame them. I'm not what anyone would call a loyalist or a "sandbox" member. I have been harshly critical of you and your critiques of local (especially chain) restaurants. Unlike the sandbox, I expect greater of you. I expect more of you than the status quo.
Quite simply, you have never asked me not to post to your blog. You have on many occasions deleted anything and everything that I have written to your blog. You have demonstrated that you only expect compliments on your blog and any critical comment or dissenting opinion is to be eradicated and deleted - as you have demonstrated many times with my own dissent.
While many here (and probably yourself) would prefer that I go away, I won't. You are the food critic for the paper of record and I will continue to follow your writings and disagree with them when appropriate. While I do think it is time for you to step down from your position, I wish you the best in your endeavors.
This response was posted today at 12:51PM - I'm wondering how long before she deletes it.