We sensed a bit of outrage last night, both at the James Beard Awards gala and on the twitter, that Diner's Journal ran the winners of the Final Four awards before they were announced live. Indeed, we were pretty baffled ourselves. But it should be noted that the Times did not break the embargo, as some have assumed. In fact, the Washington Post ran the winners at 9 p.m. as well. Dining Section editor Pete Wells confirms that the James Beard Foundation sent out the winners before the show to a number of papers under the embargo that they not be published until 9 p.m. Their post was scheduled beforehand.
Should the Times and the Post have had the courtesy to see that the awards were announced before running their pieces? Absolutely. But did they have to? Of course not.
What may look like a dick move on the papers' parts was really just a huge misplay on the decision makers at the JBAs and their PR at the Magrino agency. Why, if they want to uphold the pretense that this is a sealed envelope affair, akin to the Oscars, would they let the list out to anyone, regardless of the embargo time? Make the papers send reporters. And on top of that, to embargo the list of winners until 9 p.m. for a show that is known to run long?
As an unrelated side note, we should point out that the Times typically opts out of the general JBA hoopla. They never submit articles from either the paper or the magazine for nomination due to what we hear are issues with the James Beard Foundation's lack of independence of objectivity. And there's a filing fee.
To end, @pete_wells' take: "In other news: Rosebud is the sled, he doesn't know he's a ghost, the planet is Earth, and the baby's father is Satan." Snap!
· Eater Live: James Beard Awards Spoiled By NYT Breach! [~E~]
· Beard Awards Announced [Diner's Journal]
· D.C. Chefs Get No Medals at Beard [All We Can Eat]