Texas is known for stellar hole-in-the-wall barbecue places, so it's no wonder that blogger Daniel Vaughn ate at 130 of them to determine the top 16 in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area for a D Magazine piece last winter. According to Vaughn, they were "not the usual suspects that had normally received accolades from the local media in the past."
Imagine his surprise when half of them ended up on — and comprised eight out of nine of — Dallas Morning News critic Leslie Brenner's list of the best barbecue restaurants in the area.
When Vaughn reached out to Brenner about it, he says she responded by saying that, as a blogger (he writes a blog called Full Custom Gospel BBQ), he wasn't "familiar with accepted journalistic practices."
Which wouldn't be that big of a deal, because in theory a good piece of smoked brisket is a good piece of smoked brisket, but Vaughn noticed something odd about Brenner's piece. In it, she claims Bartley's Bar-B-Que smokes their meat with oak, a fact Vaughn also cited in his piece. Thing is, Bartley's has always used hickory, a mistake Vaughn later discovered but apparently never updated in the D Magazine story. That Brenner repeats the mistake does certainly imply a familiarity with Vaughn's piece.
The DMN list ends with a note on how the restaurants were chosen: "The Best in DFW series presents critics' and staff picks and asks readers to chime in with their favorites," but when queried Brenner admitted she "consulted Daniel Vaughn's piece and blog" along with other sources.
So, what's the takeaway? Would Brenner be in the clear if she had simply credited Vaughn as a source? Or do we go further, and say that as a food critic it was her responsibility to do the original research and eat at 130 barbecue places herself? (That might go against her diet.)
Or are these just, as she supposedly said, "accepted journalistic practices?" Which, we assume, means following the unwritten (but written) guide to stealing news stories?
· The Best Barbecue in Dallas (That’s Not Really in Dallas) [D Magazine]
· Best Barbecue [DMN]
· Who Deserves Credit for Great Dining Finds? [DO]
· Should Journalists Credit Bloggers for Pilfering Their Content? [FCGBBQ]
· All Food Media Coverage on Eater [-E-]