Cooks Illustrated editor Christopher Kimball laments the demise of Gourmet in a New York Times op-ed today. Unfortunately, in the process of reminding us what was good about Gourmet, he decides to case aspersions of the darned old Internet along the way:
The shuttering of Gourmet reminds us that in a click-or-die advertising marketplace, one ruled by a million instant pundits, where an anonymous Twitter comment might be seen to pack more resonance and useful content than an article that reflects a lifetime of experience, experts are not created from the top down but from the bottom up. They can no longer be coronated; their voices have to be deemed essential to the lives of their customers. That leaves, I think, little room for the thoughtful, considered editorial with which Gourmet delighted its readers for almost seven decades.
To survive, those of us who believe that inexperience rarely leads to wisdom need to swim against the tide, better define our brands, prove our worth, ask to be paid for what we do, and refuse to climb aboard this ship of fools, the one where everyone has an equal voice. Google “broccoli casserole” and make the first recipe you find. I guarantee it will be disappointing. The world needs fewer opinions and more thoughtful expertise — the kind that comes from real experience, the hard-won blood-on-the-floor kind. I like my reporters, my pilots, my pundits, my doctors, my teachers and my cooking instructors to have graduated from the school of hard knocks.
I’m not sure why I’m linking to this, the latest in a huge long line of ignorant straw man arguments against blogs (and now, Twitter) by people whose lofty perch is threatened by the democratization of the media. In response to his argument, I’d make three points:
- There are a lot of people who’ve been able to build an audience by exhibiting real expertise and great writing ability on the Web who would probably have never gotten that opportunity anywhere else.
- There are a lot of so-called experts whose lack of insight and effort has not prevented them from being published and promoted in traditional outlets.
- 90% of everything is crap. Yes, it’s easy to find crap on the Internet, but it’s easy to find crap everywhere.