Food Reporter Disses Bloggers

Does Steve Dolinsky hold bloggers to a different standard?

There will constantly be people who are averse to change. As technology surges forward, there are always those stubborn folks who choose to remain behind.

Some people prefer the "rawness" of a flawed LP. (For you young'ns, LPs are those big black discs that look like CDs.) Some accuse the Internet phenomenon of Facebook of not being "real" networking. And people in the media often give bloggers a hard time because they don't convey "real" information in a "real" manner.

Take Steve Dolinsky for example. Refraining from calling himself a critic, Dolinsky is ABC7's "food reporter." A commenter at Time-Out Chicago's website insists that he "is not a restaurant reviewer" and that "he will announce that right away" if asked. Mind you, he visits restaurants and tells his readers and viewers what is good and bad about the businesses, but remember, he is reportedly not a reviewer.

In August, Dolinsky wrote an article for the Huffington Post Chicago, dubbed "ChuffPo" by bloggers, about the opening of Asian fusion restaurant Urban Belly. He opens the article by criticizing online journalists of their methods:

"When I heard Urban Belly was opening this week, I was a little skeptical, and frankly, worried I wouldn't have a good experience. I try to stay away from the arms race in food coverage currently being waged by Time Out, Metromix, and a host of other bloggers, all of whom seem to be descending upon restaurants as soon as they open."

Dolinsky argues that restaurants should be given some "slack" in the first few weeks of operation:

"Typically, a wait of a few weeks is standard, and most of the big time critics will visit at least twice, if not three times, before they'll print a review."

Popular blogs like Time-Out Chicago and MenuPages took issue with this and perhaps rightfully so. Because in the exact same article, after telling other reporters not to review a restaurant on its opening day...

He writes a review "report" about his experience at Urban Belly on its opening day.

Do you hear that? That's the sound of Chicago bloggers' foreheads collectively hitting their desks.

This isn't Dolinsky's only hypocritical offense however. Even though he himself stated that a "big time critic" should visit a business two or three times before reviewing, the food reporter made sure to express his disgust for Tapas Valencia after only one visit. Last week, he sent out a (now deleted) Tweet and updated his Facebook page:

"Steve Dolinsky went to Tapas Valencia twice tonight: his first and last time."

And again, while Dolinsky chides bloggers for not waiting "a few weeks" before printing their reviews, his not-so-subtle criticism of Tapas Valencia came only one week after its official opening date.

As Helen Rosner of MenuPages points out, the icing on this bitter cake is that Steve Dolinsky is, in fact, a blogger himself.

So, is Steve Dolinsky holding (other) bloggers to a different standard than himself, or is he just another mainstream media name trying to discredit new media?

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue and "between blogs" blogger, Tweets often but has not yet submitted to Facebook.

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