An Ed's Diner patron wrote in another post:
Like politics and a lot of journalism these days, many critics have gone beyond constructive criticism to the level of viciousness.
I guess one can argue that the shock value sells and creates ratings, but in my opinion there is no place for this form of journalism from food critics. Dining is a very personal thing to many people and it is as much of an expression of art appreciation as any other form of art.
I feel the main component needs to remain "constructive criticism."
As a reviewer, I prefer "guiding criticism." "Constructive criticism" implies that I am somehow responsible for helping a restaurant identify and fix its shortcomings.
If a restaurant wants a private consultation, there are people who do that for a living. Me, I'm a journalist. Tell the truth and shame the devil -- that's how I was brought up in this business and it's served me pretty well for 22 years.
As I've told restaurant owners who have called me to complain about negative reviews: I don't write for restaurant owners. I write for customers.
(I also don't write for civic boosters. So just because a restaurant does business in Tacoma, that doesn't mean I will review it, or review it positively, but that's a whole different topic for a different time and day.)
My goal for the 40 hours a week I do this job is to help people spend their money. My role is to be your surrogate. Of course, I'm just one guy with one mouth and one stomach (really, just the one, despite what my wife claims) and all the biases and opinions that a person develops. (Fruit sauce on fish: bad. Brussels sprouts: good.)
I call 'em like I eat 'em. Let the flavorless tortilla chips fall where they may.
If a review is front-loaded with negative aspects, that's because my experience of a restaurant is overwhelmed with negative experiences. I can only write what I experience, and there is nothing positive or constructive to say when a restaurant disappoints more than it pleases.
Helping you spend your money means giving you the brutal honest truth. It's impossible to eat by consensus. I can only give you my opinions and interpretations.
If the emperor has no clothes, I will tell you the emperor is stark naked. I will not tell you the emperor has created a new minimalist fashion trend.
You can disagree with me -- just like you can disagree with a movie review, an art review or a concert review.
As Tim Tweeten, owner of The Poodle Dog, The Harvester, The Hob Nob and Knapps (some of which I've written unkind words about), told me yesterday: People dine out no matter what a restaurant critic says.