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Eater DC, Editor Gabe Hiatt Replaces the Departed Warren Rojas


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I just wanted to say thank you to Eater for picking up on some dr.com posts in Amy's thorough compilation of internet reviews for Green Pig Bistro. It's very rewarding to see our members having a direct impact on the dining world. The impact is always there - I know that, and restaurants know that - but it's nice for the members here to actually be able to see it because sometimes it can seem like a very intangible force.

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Hey there, Don -

The reason the story isn't "tagged" with Don Rockwell on Eater.com is that Eater uses tags to indicate what the story is about, not to credit who wrote it (that's done through linking and through brackets). If a story is about Tom Sietsema (his dining guide, etc.), for example, I might tag it with his name, but if you notice, the posts on Eater tag the article's subject matter. It's a fairly transparent system.

My publication did a "limp-wristed" job of crediting your reporting because there was no source for your claim. You didn't write "Jon Mathieson has told me he has X new job" or say where the info came from (a worker within the restaurant, someone who randomly told you, etc.). You just stated it as fact, without indicating sources. With big-deal stories like that, I need to understand what kind of reporting goes on before I acknowledge it as reporting rather than the discussion of rumors (for the first part of the story, which was even more sensitive, I waited to credit someone who spelled out where the info came from, and also worked on the story myself to try to get a confirmed report). I credit when I directly get information from other sources very consistently (and there are several links to Don Rockwell on Eater), but I have to treat publications with different standards with more caution - that's, for example, why I will not aggregate a Prince of Petworth "scuttlebutt" post without doing my own reporting and acknowledging it as rumor rather than fact. You may disagree with this system, but there is a method to it.

Additionally, I imagine that most journalists do not see every single post in your forum (I personally try to check it once a day, and will often catch something if it is sent out on Twitter, but I'm sure there is plenty I don't see). I don't expect everyone will read everything I write on Eater, either, which is one of many reasons I don't chase down other publications for credit. Your site's layout isn't very clear to read unless someone goes through every single restaurant thread constantly, and reporters usually are not sitting at their desks all day pouring over others' work. So sometimes they're not slighting you; they're just using their own sources to do their job, which is to report news, not publicize other media outlets.

You are free to contact me directly to question any of Eater's policies or decisions, and your readers are welcome to do so as well. I have had several conversations with you via email about my company's procedures, and have always treated you with respect during those discussions. In fact, I encouraged you to send me a link when you had a particularly big scoop, which is a fairly common procedure for sites who want others to pick up their work. But the one time you did send me a list of stories that I had failed to credit, as you put it, you sent me a mix of aggregated items, reviews from users, very minor news items, items written from press releases, etc., which are not posts I would aggregate on Eater.

I don't think it's professional for you to be swearing about your colleagues and accusing them of serious ethical violations in a public setting (you've done it about Eater as well in the past, though you've since deleted some of those posts), but it's your forum. I don't plan to engage with you on your site any further, as I don't think it's an appropriate place to do it, but your frequent public maligning of me and my fellow writers in the industry deserved a response. Take care.

Missy Frederick
Eater DC

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The reason the story isn't "tagged" with Don Rockwell on Eater.com is that Eater uses tags to indicate what the story is about, not to credit who wrote it (that's done through linking and through brackets).

Missy, thank you for your thoughtful and detailed reply. It's very clear now how Eater's tagging system works - it sure seemed to me that other writers were being tagged in the past and I wasn't, but now that I look? I don't see anything, so it could have easily been my overactive imagination at work. Those posts about Eater you refer to were deleted after we talked, when it became clear to me that I had been misjudging your work - it would not have been right to leave them there. (You'll also notice, by the way, that we include Eater in our News Feeds forum, so it isn't like we're anti-Eater.)

Speaking only for myself - and I would ask that you remember this - the way *I* work, is that if I say something is true ... it is. Period. It means I've researched it, and have verified it with sources who don't want to be named. It's not rumor; it's fact. Now, I went to school in accounting and computer science; not journalism, so maybe that's not what people are taught in journalism school, but it seems like common sense to me, and I put my reputation on each and every thing I write, and I've been doing this for over ten years without a miss that I can think of - if I say something, you can count on it as being fact. Are you really saying that if I added something like "someone randomly told me," it would lend more credibility to the story? I don't bombard you with press releases because I feel like it would be bothering you, and it makes me feel guilty.

Anything I say that is only rumor is clearly labeled as such, and I've done this in the past as well.

Accusing my colleagues of serious ethical violations may not be professional, but it certainly appears to be the case here, and it has happened time and time again in the past - this was merely the straw that broke the camel's back, and I'm no longer going to sit back and watch it happen any longer. Both stories were not only on this site, but also on Twitter and Facebook, i.e., they were out there for the world to see, and they were seen. You may not know that much of the restaurant industry does indeed scour this website on a daily basis - maybe you're not one of them, but you're the exception. But I will take your words to heart, and try to be mindful in the future about what you've written here.

Again, thank you for having taken the time to respond.

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On 4/25/2012 at 11:12 AM, Amy M said:

Thanks Don! And to your members for their great feedback.

Today, Eater published a list of highlights from message boards with a couple from ours.

I tried to add this there as a comment, but it doesn't work - I don't feel quite right making this a topic on their forum, so I'm not sure what else to do other than post it here.

As a (David Foster Wallace-sized) supplement to their list, here are a few more highlights from the past several days:

* James Beard Award-winning chef RJ Cooper shares his Honey-Orange Glazed Carrots recipe for Thanksgiving.

* Good Fortune, the largest international supermarket in Northern Virginia at 44,000 square feet, opened on Saturday.
* The manager of Sushi Capitol announced that they are opening Ogawa, in Kalorama.
* The Mezzanine Cafe at the National Museum of Women in the Arts is partnering with Union Kitchen, Dirty South Deli, and Blind Dog Cafe.
* Breaking news that Eventide was closing, and that the space will be operated by the owners of A-Town.
* Eventide announced that their wine cellar is up for sale.
* Brad Walker, chef-owner of Boundary Road, announced that they're searching for a GM.
* A compendium of restaurants in the DC area offering half-priced wine nights (this one is for active members only).
* Song Long replaces Song Que (the deli owned by Four Sisters) in Eden Center.
* The notorious chief of police in the most famous photo from the Vietnam war used to own a pizza parlor in Burke.
* The opening of two new Falls Church restaurants, Saffron and (soon) Cafe Kindred.
* An updated list of 2013 and 2014 DC-area restaurant openings (257 and 229, respectively).
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I wanted to say congratulations to Eater for having hired Warren Rojas as their new DC Editor.

I've broken bread with Warren, and admire his skill as a journalist and his passion for dining - I'd be very surprised if "DC Editor" is his final stop, so I'll look forward to monitoring his career. In the meantime, I'm just happy that he's back in the culinary world.

Congratulations to both Eater and Warren.

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