As of last Monday, Roger Porter is no longer a restaurant critic for The Oregonian. A longtime reviewer for the former Oregon Magazine, Willamette Week, and the Oregonian as well as co-author of The Food Lover's Companion To Portland, Porter won a James Beard nomination for the best restaurant critic in America in 1998. Now he's out of a job — well, food reviewing job (he still has his day job as a professor at Reed College). Eater talked to a man who has probably dined at more fine restaurants than anyone else in this town; here's what Porter had to say about his abrupt departure from the daily (which, as of this time, is still scheduled to run his last review in this Friday's paper):
"I was told, in an email from the current editor of The Oregonian's A & E, DeAnn Welker, that my services were no longer wanted at The Oregonian, and she was terminating my relation with the paper. “I have come to the conclusion that this is not a good fit. It is clear to me that we are going in a different direction from the past,” she wrote me. And again: “We are radically changing the way we cover dining and restaurants.” That changing direction means, as Welker told me in person, that The Oregonian intends its restaurant coverage to be aimed at ordinary people. It will henceforth meet the needs of readers who go to the places where most of the people go [...] we had had some disagreement over the paper’s forthcoming increased attention to restaurants in the suburbs and to chains, at the expense of coverage of Portland’s extraordinary restaurants. She was insistent that The Oregonian would embark on a new course and this appeared to signify in part a new regime."
"The Oregonian, under Karen Brooks’ superb editorship, produced strong, dedicated coverage of a restaurant scene that has made Portland one of the great food cities in America. It is clear that the paper’s new policy aims to counter what Welker and her cohorts believe has been an excessively elitist point of view regarding restaurant reviewing. The new direction was evidently symbolized by the dismissal of Brooks some months ago. Coverage of new restaurants will continue, but in a greatly reduced fashion. In its place there will be more A & E dining articles on such subjects as how to assemble a tasty picnic. This shift cannot be good for the morale or the business of the extraordinary restaurateurs of the city, and signals a remarkable indifference to the great food city Portland has become."
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