The general gist of the piece is: people love food and food writing now more than ever, but writers aren’t making as much money as they used to make because no one is paying for it.
Too bad the thesis is wrong. For a piece nominally about the economics of food writing there is very little by the way of numbers here outside of some freelancers complaining about rates.
You can now find (paid) food writing in the New Yorker, the New York Times (and its magazines), the Wall Street Journal (and its magazine), men’s mags, Extra Crispy, Vice, Lucky Peach (until May, RIP), Bon App, Food & Wine, The Infatuation, and others, not to mention regional and local outfits. All of these publications pay writers. Eater manages to pay dozens of full-time writer/editor salaries, plus a bevy of freelancers, plus the expense accounts of three full-time critics—and there’s still money left over for the general Vox Media coffers, because they have a valuable audience that advertisers pay to advertise to.
I imagine that other media companies are seeing the same growth that eater is seeing, It’s why Time Inc. launched a second food brand last year. It’s why Bon Appetit continues to send Andrew Knowlton and Julia Kramer on the road all year (and why its publisher gets written up in the trades on the regular). It’s why Ed Levine was able to sell Serious eats for millions. It’s why the Infatuation exists at all and continues to grow. The audience is there, the money is there.
That’s what makes the demise of Lucky Peach even more of a shame for its followerd and founders. They could have made it. Corby Kummer and Alan Richman aren’t making the same bank that they used to. Perhaps a new generation of writers (and other storytellers) are getting the microphone.