Neuron Culture

from the NY Times:

Sour Grapes

The news that Wine Spectator magazine was scammed into giving an Award of Excellence to a non-existent restaurant has been greeted with guffaws by schadenfreude fans and with fury by the magazine’s editor.

But longtime readers of the Dining section might have seen this coming. Five years ago Amanda Hesser wrote that the magazine granted the award, the lowest of three levels of recognition by the magazine, without actually inspecting the restaurants involved.

Some of the reader comments at the Times site, however, note a more complex story:

When I first read about this, I thought it was kind of funny, but after reading Amanda Hesser’s article and the response by the Wine Spectator article, I don’t think Goldstein’s accomplishment is all that great. This is what I especially don’t like (if true) from the WS editor:

“In the case of Osteria L’Intrepido:
a. We called the restaurant multiple times; each time, we reached an answering machine and a message from a person purporting to be from the restaurant claiming that it was closed at the moment.
b. Googling the restaurant turned up an actual address and located it on a map of Milan
c. The restaurant sent us a link to a Web site that listed its menu
d. On the Web site Chowhound, diners (now apparently fictitious) discussed their experiences at the non-existent restaurant in entries dated January 2008, to August 2008.”

It seems like WS did its due diligence in trying to see if the restaurant is real. I especially think the fake Chowhound reviews are in poor taste. Spammy comments pollute online communities; people other than WS might have gone looking for this restaurant and found nothing. While you may disagree with WS criteria, it’s not like they led anyone astray in thinking they would actually visit the restaurant.

It seems the halls of journalism are full of smoke and mirrors. (And people drinking wine.)

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