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Katelyn Orlowski

Five panel members sat, one digitally, at a long table in front of the Women and Food Symposium audience and discussed the challenges, provocations and delights related to writing about food in the age of new media. The University of Texas at Austins Food Lab hosted the symposium Jan. 18, in the Mary E. Gearing Hall. The Food Lab at UT Austin is based in the School of Human Ecology and seeks to provide awareness, motivate interest in, and promote research about food. The Women and Food Symposium is the Food Labs rst and covered making a living in the kitchen, on the farm and in the media. Melanie Haupt, author, blogger and food critic at the Austin Chronicle, moderated the panel and was accompanied by Toni Tipton Martin, author of The Jemima Code, Jessica Elizarraras, food and nightlife editor at the San Antonio Current, Kim Voss, a journalism professor at Central Florida University, appeared via Skype, and Megan McCarron, an editor at Eater Austin. Women are not backing down when it comes to writing about food, faux pas and scal responsibility in the culinary world and have embraced social media in order to make their voices heard. Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr are free for anyone to use and journalists are grappling with how to use these sites and still earn a living. Freelance blogging gives journalists a platform in which to publish their work but poses the same challenges. Kim Voss reminds her mostly female journalism students to never give away their content for free. Voss said she urges them to have those difcult conversations with potential employers. Megan McCarron commented on the compensation conversation and dug into how students and journalists alike have to be eager to make a living writing about food. You have to ask for it, she said, learning to ask for money is great. Women have had an inequitable relationship with not only money but job positions in both the journalism and culinary industries. Panel members discussed the predisposition of the culinary world to gravitate toward primarily male subjects. This is not to say there is not an interesting, diverse group of women chefs, restauranteurs and culinary masters out there, but the panel members noted they are not getting the recognition they deserve. McCarron described Eater Austin as being predominantly woman dominated and focused on writing about women in the culinary industry. The panel members agreed shift is taking place and thanks to new media, women can communicate to and interact with a greater audience.

Katelyn Orlowski

Toni Tipton-Martin noted accuracy, interestingness and ethics are sometimes lost with new media and implored all journalists to balance accuracy and speed in order to produce the best possible content. When Haupt opened the panel she said food has always been a social form of media for women, sharing recipes and lunching with friends have been commonplace since long before new media. The panel members agreed that now women are utilizing new media to cover new trends in food and are painting a more complete picture of the culinary industry. The next two panels covered making a living at food and gender in cookbooks to round out the symposium.