There is a fundamental difference between a critic who bashes the places and things he or she reviews and someone who reports and critques the same places in order to identify for readers what kind of experience the reader will have.

Ethical JournalismThe majority of critics understand this concept and write fair, balanced and reasonable reviews. However, the advent of the blog has created a new world of excessively self-serving opinionated amateurs. These so-called critics have insufficient talent, expertise or professionalism to be called critics. A true critic will have an in-depth knowledge of the subject being written about, and some degree of experience actually working in that field.

Should a fashion critic not know how clothing is made or designed? Or a travel critic not visit the places he’s written about or worked for an airline, cruiseline or hotel chain? We don’t think so.

The public is being duped into thinking that because they read a criticism on a blog, it is an honest critic. More often, it’s someone with a personal prejudice and a pulpit from which to spread either un-informed or intentional falsehoods.

Case in point… a New York City user guide website did a review of a restaurant reviewed in this blog. The critic (also the publisher) started out from the first words to the last period in a malicious attack. Few facts were correct and his words were intended to keep the potential guest away from the place. The writer has written for several magazines and newspapers in the past, but not for long and that was a long time ago. He’s lost the ethical and professional standards most of us impart in our work.

When we review anything, or our critics go out to shop, to the theatre, sports events or concerts, to restaurants, hotels, tourism sites or for that matter, for anything, the writer will always have experience in that field. We hope our readers will understand that at EGO, we’re not about our own ego, but about truth and fairness.

There have been times when our critics have had bad experiences at hotels or in travel for example (see Features Section), but we understand when something we experience as bad is a one-off experience or a routine problem. Several years back, I stayed at a hotel in North Carolina. Each time I stayed there, the place was missing wallplates covering electrical outlets and the towels were ‘ratty’. If this happened once, okay there’s no need to write about it, just tell management and they’ll fix it, using the power of the media to illuminate the management. But when it’s a consistent problem, we’ll write, but in a fair way. To be equitable, the hotel was well-situated and the rooms generally comfortable and clean. Staff was attentive to guest needs. Should a critic bash the place because a wallplate is missing and a towel a bit tattered, even if it is a regular problem? We don’t think so, and thus you’ll not read nasty reviews in EGO.

After reading that user guide review bashing that restaurant, we decided to respond, writing an equally nasty, but factual email to the author and inviting him to dinner to show him the error of his ways. He responded that I’m insane and desperate for dinner companions (ha!). In an act of absolute and clearly defined lack of professionalism, he published my comments, totally edited to his own benefit in both his e-newsletter and site, even though he had specific information from me that this was not permitted. No writer would ever bash their readers, even when they disagree.

In an email sent to me by a colleague at Who’s Who in Hospitality, it was pointed out that the current standards of online reviews are sadly diminishing at a rapid rate and that the public is relying more on blogs and user-generated reviews than professional ones because the so-called pros are often too conciliatory. Well, if that’s the case, come to EGO and read real journalism. No conciliation, no bashing either. Just the facts, the truth and done right.

EGO will never bash our readers, and while we might write something that could be disagreed with, our reviews will always be ethical, fair and professional. We know you want to know the truth and we’ll give it to you. But we won’t drag up dirt to do it. We’ll never lie to you, and we’ll always double check our facts. It’s this kind of professionalism and ethical journalism you, our readers, have relied upon and always received since 1996.

Our Publisher’s personal pledge is that you’ll always get the best journalistic standards at EGO and Epicurus.com.

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