Parade, the country's most irrelevant and boring news magazine, has decided to launch a recipe site. Proof that food writing has jumped the shark or added fuel for recent claims that “food is the new black”?
Putting aside journalists' reliance on the “X is the new Y” cliché, MinOnline claims that food publishing is currently in a mini-bubble similar to what gossip sites experienced a few years ago: growth rates that make bunny rabbit reproduction seem lethargic.
“If you're looking for a job and you like to eat…you may do well to examine the foodie sphere,” says MediaBistro. Ad Age's recently announced Magazine A-List for 2010 adds fuel to the fire with two food publications, Cooking Light (#4) and the Food Network Magazine (#5), making the top 10. (Frugality-focused All You, which came in at #3, also has solid food content.)
So is food media booming or getting ready to bust? Both.
Food publishing is definitely in expansion mode, which is terrific for people who love to read and write about food. At the same time, it presents a challenge for those seeking to distinguish themselves from the glut of food publications. If you launched a food site two to five years ago and have managed to cultivate an audience and make a name for yourself, you're in a good position to capitalize on the trend. (In Los Angeles, no one has demonstrated better brand management than Sarah Gim of TasteSpotting and Joshua Lurie of Food GPS.) If you're just starting out, good luck. You're in for long, hard road.
As glamorous as these trend pieces about food publishing make it sound, most food writers and self-styled publishers aren't making a profit. They're doing it for free meals and maybe, if they're lucky, a dribble of ad revenue. As more corporations jump in (the Gourmet Live iPad app, the Oct. 15 launch of The Daily Meal with Saveur founder Colman Andrews as editorial director, and this publication's commitment to expanding food coverage), the food sphere is only going to get more crowded.
When that happens and people realize what a long, hard slog publishing (print or online) really is, how many of these food sites will still be around in a couple years? A very good question. (Got any answers of your own, we'd love to hear them.)