On Wednesday, we suggested that the career food critic may be an endangered journalistic species, as fewer outlets seem interested in (or can afford) keeping a critic in place for decades. The counterpoint to that is that the job of full-time critic, which has always had its hidden drawbacks, has gotten harder of late. It's not the bucolic, eat-write-repeat process it once was, but has expanded to include blogging, tweeting, and general hobnobbing online, in addition to what's often an exhaustive dining schedule. There may be fewer full-time critic gigs available, but they're the not the dream jobs they once were.
On Thursday evening Village Voice critic Robert Sietsema pointed out on the Fork in the Road blog that departing New York Times critic Sam Sifton's 40-hour week of simply eating was just the start of the rest of the work a critic's now expected to do.
"Back in the Age of [former Times critic] Ruth [Reichl], it was merely a matter of going out to eat all the time at high-end restaurants, where a meal usually took three or four hours. You do that, say, 11 or 12 times a week, lunch and dinner plus travel time, and you've used up 40 or more hours per week already just eating, weekdays and weekends included. Goodbye family. To then have to sit down and write a long prose masterpiece of 1,100 or 1,200 words week after week required stamina, even back then. Times reviews are significantly longer than those at other papers, and crammed with details that the critic himself must initially fact-check."
Read the full story at The Atlantic Wire.
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