For those who follow food media obsessively, this morning was sort of a sad one. News came out that Conde Nast is killing its Gourmet Live iPad publication, and the Washington Post is shutting down its food blog, All We Can Eat.
Gourmet Live was pretty much a hollow shell of the much-beloved and already-deceased Gourmet magazine. One can look at the failure of The Daily as an iPad-only newspaper as evidence to why Gourmet Live never quite found its footing. While Gourmet.com will continue to exist, it's fair to say that the Gourmet brand is pretty much done (as if it wasn't already).
Tim Carman, the editor of All We Can Eat, explained why the Washington Post decided to shut the blog down in a farewell post:
As The Post looks for innovative ways to compete in a media landscape that's so fragmented and competitive, management has decided that throwing 1,000 blogs at the problem isn't the solution. We need to focus our energies on a smaller number of blogs that draw the majority of the traffic, such as the Going Out Gurus, where I will continue to add my voice.
He makes a compelling point -- not only is the media world fragmented and competitive, but the food media world is especially saturated. Perhaps you'll see a story on HuffPost Food, and then notice the same thing on another blog, and then another one. It's hard to stand out when you're all hungry for similar content, clicks and readers.
Both All We Can Eat and Gourmet Live were plagued by the same disease: not enough readers. While neither of these were the top online food properties, they both produced solid content from good writers. That's just not good enough anymore.
In better food media news this week, crowd-sourced recipe site Food52 just raised $2 million according to a Form D filing with the SEC.
So why did two properties fail while one got some new capital? Food52 has managed to fill a gap of an already saturated food media landscape by developing a relatively unique product and avoiding wading into waters that were already too clogged.
Gourmet Live was never able to accomplish that -- its brand had already diminished considerably when the magazine closed in 2009. As for All We Can Eat, perhaps it may just be one of the first innocent victims. Good reporting, but staid concept. Everyone has a food blog these days, which makes it harder and harder to stand out.
It's worth remembering that the digital food landscape is still relatively new. Let's hope that as it continues to evolve, that we find it a place for good, meaningful, fun and insightful conversations about food.