A Vancouver restaurant, clearly unhappy with a review by The Globe and Mail’s B.C. food critic Alexandra Gill, purchased an ad in Saturday’s Globe slamming her personally and professionally.
And unfortunately, The Globe published it due to human error, a complete failure of the advertising vetting procedure.
Critics perform an important service to readers. Beholden to no one, they give you their expert opinion on whether a movie, restaurant, television show, book, etc., are worth your time and money. That independence of opinion whether from columnists or critics is a core principle of good journalism.
It is their opinion, and you are free to listen or not. Those on the receiving end may be unhappy (imagine being the producer of the movie Cats right now), and there are venues for them to complain, to me as public editor, to letters to the editor or on their own on social media. It should not happen in an advertisement in the media’s own pages.
The Globe has reviewed the oversight in advertising and tightened its processes to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It will also give the money for the ad to charity.
The ad expressed anger that the reviewer would reserve under an assumed name. This is common practice for all restaurant reviewers, so they can have the same experience the reader would. The reviewer and, by extension, The Globe, pays for all meals. Otherwise, how could you be independent?
The ad argues that the role of critics is irrelevant given social media reviews, but I couldn’t disagree more. With a mountain of opinions on social media, including the angry, the anonymous, and friends and family, more than ever you need an expert, independent view.