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James Beard Foundation Announces New Categories For 2012 Awards

Today the James Beard Foundation announced four new categories for the 2012 Awards: Outstanding Bar Program, Food Coverage in a General Interest Publication, Food Coverage in a Food-Focused Publication, and Visual Storytelling. Because clearly what the James Beard Foundation Awards needs is more awards in more categories.

The addition of "Outstanding Bar Program" makes sense (mixologists were hip five years ago and the JBF is catching up). And as far as "Visual Storytelling" — "excellence in photography, graphic design, and photojournalism" — sure thing.

And whether or not you agree with Anthony Bourdain that the James Beard Awards is a "self congratulatory goat rodeo/awards ceremony/chef shakedown," the new journalism categories might just be a touch overly-broad and redundant. Here's the description of "Food Coverage in a Food-Focused Publication":

Recognizes excellence of an entire food-focused publication: writing, reporting, and packaging of food coverage in a website, magazine, newspaper or other medium. Entry must consist of three examples of the full coverage (a day, issue, week, etc.).

So it's basically anything? These categories already exist: "Publication of the Year Award," "Food-related Columns and Commentary," "Food Section of a General Interest Publication," and "Group Food Blog." Is "Food Coverage in a Food-Focused Publication" actually necessary?

Last year the JBFAs went platform-neutral in the journalism side — pitting bloggers, newspaper columnists, and magazine writers against each other in an all-out steel cage death match — and now it's only going to get uglier.

Here's the press release:

James Beard Foundation Introduces New Award Categories for 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards

NEW YORK, NY (December 1, 2011): The James Beard Foundation has announced new award categories for the culinary industry’s most prestigious honors. The new categories for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards include Outstanding Bar Program, Food Coverage in a General Interest Publication, Food Coverage in a Food-Focused Publication, and Visual Storytelling.

“The Outstanding Bar Program Award acknowledges the growing importance of cocktails, spirits, and beer in many restaurants and bars. This new award will recognize establishments that set a high standard of excellence nationally,” said Providence Cicero, Seattle Times restaurant critic and Chair of the James Beard Foundation's Restaurant and Chef Awards Committee. “Together with the Outstanding Wine Program Award, the new Outstanding Bar Program Award allows us to consider a broader range of talent in restaurants and bars.”

The Outstanding Bar Program category for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Restaurant & Chef Awards recognizes a restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service.

“The addition of the new Bar and Journalism categories to the 2012 James Beard Awards will shine a spotlight on previously unrecognized experts in the beverage and epicurean world and their positive impact on the way we eat, drink, cook, and think about the culinary arts in America,” said Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation.

Dorothy Kalins, Director of Dorothy Kalins Ink and Chair of the James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards Committee noted: “Building on last year’s far-reaching changes that made every category platform neutral, we’ve added three new ways to reward journalistic excellence: in a food-focused publication, a general interest publication, and in a brand new category called Visual Storytelling.”

The newest 2012 James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards categories and definitions are:

Food Coverage in a General Interest Publication: Recognizes excellence in food writing, reporting, and packaging of regularly published food coverage in a non food-focused publication. Entries may be print, digital, or both and consist of three examples of the full coverage.

Food Coverage in a Food-Focused Publication: Recognizes excellence of an entire food-focused publication: writing, reporting, and packaging of food coverage in a website, magazine, newspaper or other medium. Entry must consist of three examples of the full coverage (a day, issue, week, etc.).

Visual Storytelling: Rewards excellence in photography, graphic design, and photojournalism.

To make a nomination or to view the full list of 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards programs and deadlines, please visit www.jamesbeard.org/awards. The deadline for the Journalism, Broadcast, Restaurant Graphic & Design Awards is January 6, 2012 and the deadline for the Restaurant & Chef Awards is December 31, 2011.

The Awards are open to any industry professional who meets the criteria. Nominees will be announced on March 19, 2012 in Las Vegas. James Beard Foundation membership is not required for participation in the nomination process or to win an Award. Ballot tabulation is handled by Lutz and Carr, an independent accounting firm.

The James Beard Foundation Books, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards will be held on May 4, 2012 in New York City. The James Beard Foundation Awards Gala will be presented on May 7, 2012 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in New York City.

· All James Beard Awards Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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