Examining Wine Blogging: Responsibility
A week from today, upwards of 300 wine blogger will converge on Portland, Oregon for the Wine Bloggers Conference. They will come from across the country and in some cases around the world to examine their chosen avocation, to commune with fellow bloggers and to learn.
During this conference, which will be my fifth, I have the happy responsibility of moderating a session entitled "Are We Wine Writers or Wine Bloggers?" In preparation for helping instigate an invigorating discussion of this topic, I've been examining my own thoughts on what it means to be a wine blogger. I keep coming back to the notion of "responsibility"
Does a wine blogger have a responsibility to anyone but themselves? Put another way, can a person who maintains a wine blog do so without any consideration for any readers they may have and be called a successful wine blogger?
That this is a legitimate question at all should expose the difference between "writers" and bloggers". Anyone legitimately calling themself a "writer" would never even consider examining this question as the vast majority of any responsibility a writer must satisfy is to their reader first.
If a writer does not first satisfy the needs and expectations of their readers, they won't long be writing for their readers. They won't have any readers. They won't be given the opportunity to even try to satisfy readers. And they could not legitimately call themself a "writer". But a wine blogger can ignore the needs of their readers, write entirely for their own satisfaction and continue to legitimately be called a "wine blogger".
Over and over these past years as wine blogging as taken off and become a more important part of the public wine conversation, I have listened to wine blogger after wine blogger say the following: "I blog for myself". A minority of wine bloggers admit that they blog for their readers or for a heightened profile within the wine world or to advance their careers. Yet, the constant refrain I've heard is from so many wine bloggers is the self-centered pursuit of self satisfaction.
A bonafied writer, I think, could never honestly make this statement. Despite the fact that writers are often accused of being ego-maniacs, and despite the fact that their their own efforts to expose, explain and pronounce satisfy some kind of inner need to act authoritatively, no writer will ever argue that the care and feeding of their readers is of no importance. They know that the reader must be possess some level of satisfaction derived for the writer to call themselves even a mediocre success.
None of this is to say that a Wine Blogger can't make something beyond themselves, particularly the reader, their prime responsibility. And of course writers who must have the reader as their prime responsibility can meet that responsibility as a wine blogger. But the fact remains, a Wine Blogger can always be a wine blogger by writing for themself.