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Groucho unmasked

Revealing the mystery man behind the Gazette's restaurant reviews



A week has passed since we poked the tiger. And oddly enough, he hasn't responded.

Last Thursday, the Indy called into question the Gazette's decision to use an entirely anonymous restaurant reviewer, a man who has been writing under the pseudonym Nathaniel Glen since February.

We pointed out that no other large paper in Colorado, or even the industry-leading New York Times, employs such a tactic. We quoted a journalism ethics expert who stated that a fully disguised critic could launch pot shots at local restaurants without fear of retribution. We noted that he could avoid answering to readers for any insensitive comments he may have made in print.

Finally, we asked why Mr. Glen might deserve special treatment. Could it be because the Gazette didn't want to acknowledge that after promoting an egalitarian, open-to-anyone competition, it actually hired someone who already was a newsroom staffer? And that this might come as a surprise to the readers who voted for their favorite candidate, to say nothing of the those 30 men and women who had to don Groucho Marx masks to promote this reality-show lite?

We received a handful of personal calls and e-mails from the G, and even some unsolicited "don't do it" advice from a Denver Post staffer last Wednesday. But nothing in public, not a single line in print or on the Gazette's quiet dining blog to convince us we should reconsider fully outing the man.

Come on. No table talk for the little old, rabble-rousing Indy? Are we to be relegated to the kiddie table to eat our vegetables and hush?

As we mentioned last week, entertainment editor Warren Epstein cited three other papers that he claimed also allowed food critics to use pseudonyms: the Florida Times-Union, the Marin Independent Journal (Calif.) and the Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.). By press time last week, the Post and Courier had told us that it does not use pseudonyms for food critics. An editor reconfirmed that for us this week, explicitly stating, "[Our food critics] use a pseudonym only in the restaurant, not for the published review."

Point: Indy.

Shortly after going to print, we heard back from the Marin IJ and the Times-Union. The Marin IJ said it does not allow pseudonyms, stating, "We use real names for real people."

Point: Indy.

A Times-Union editor confirmed that his paper does use pseudonyms, and further admitted that its readers have no idea.

Point: Gazette. Indy 2, Gazette 1.

Just to see if we could tie the score, we threw another publication into the mix one of the Gazette's Freedom Communications, Inc.-owned siblings of comparable size. Alas, the East Valley Tribune (Mesa, Ariz.) also employs no writers under pseudonyms.

Um ... Indy wins.

While we figure a few other publications probably do engage in this practice there's always somebody wearing Bad Idea Jeans somewhere we cannot readily locate them.

But enough already. Point made.

On to the fun stuff.

Who is Nathaniel Glen? (Jeez, this is really starting to sound like an Ayn Rand story...)

For rhyming fools: His first name sounds like "crave," "slave" and "behave."

For trivia buffs: His last name is synonymous with a certain petroleum company, and also a type of screwdriver.

Bullies are we? We think not. We could have printed his photo ...

Contributions by Amanda Lundgren

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