Leaving The Wine Blogger By the Side of the Road
For anyone looking for an excellent position in wine marketing, you need look no further than the recent job posting by J Vineyards and Winery for PR and Social Media Associate. The great thing about this job opportunity is that it provides the chance to dive into the deep end of public and media relations as well as the social media side of marketing communications.
One of the most interesting things about this job posting is the very first responsibility listed in the description. It gets to an issue I’ve been thinking about. That first responsibility a new J Vineyards’ PR and Social Media Associate will be tasked with is this:
“Identifies, communicates with and pitches key journalists, bloggers and other influencers.”
It’s absolutely true that a key responsibility of a PR associate is the ability to form and deliver a good and compelling pitch to journalists, Bloggers and other influencers. But what’s interesting is the distinction made here between “journalists” and “bloggers”.
It’s not an unusual distinction. It is made all the time and has been made for some time, making it in some respects a necessary distinction. But it’s still the wrong distinction.
At bottom, a wine blogger can be a wine journalist, and of course a wine journalist can be a wine blogger. This fact alone makes the distinction an odd one. But the point is driven home when we recall that we don’t refer to a person who writes for the print edition of a newspaper as a Newspaperer”.
It’s odd to refer to those who write by referencing the medium through which the writer’s work is read. We don’t read or pitch stories to Newspaperers, Newsletterers, WebSiters or Bookers. But we do read and pitch stories to “Bloggers”. It begs the question, what stops us from referring to people like W. Blake Gray, David White, Tyler Colman, Elaine Brown, Joe Roberts or myself as writers or journalists or commentators or critics or essayists?
I think we should.
I don’t mean to suggest by using this odd distinction between “blogger” and “journalist” that the folks at J Vineyards have demeaned those who publish in a blog format . In fact, I was thinking how I would communicate this particular responsibility of the job of PR Associate. I likely would have written it in the same way, if only out of habit.
That habit is born, I think, out of the way we have come to think about people who self publish, particularly in a blog format, but also in ebook format: amateurs. Or, at the least, we have the habit of thinking of these self publishers as second rank, minor leaguers, second stringers. Despite the fact that many of those who do publish using a blog format can accurately be described this way, I still believe we ought to break our habit of thinking of those who write on blogs in this manner.
Can’t we refer to W. Blake Gray as a “journalist” instead of a “blogger”? Can we refer to Joe Roberts as a wine “writer”, instead of a wine “blogger”. Can we refer to Tyler Colman as an “author” and wine “writer”? It makes much more sense.
A few years ago I founded the American Wine Blog Awards. Later, I helped organize the first Wine Bloggers Conference. So the irony of this position I’m taking isn’t lost on me. And I can appreciate the case that can be made that “wine bloggers” really are a category of wine media that possess very particular qualities that justify the moniker without any hint of demeaning sentiment. Still, the distinction continues to bother me.
The term “journalist” originates from the late 17th century or early 18th century when it was used to refer to a person whose job was to write or edit a public newspaper or one who wrote their own, personal journal. Today, the term means something much different. It has evolved to mean one who reports the news without bias, but to inform.
If the term “blogger” survives into the future, it is likely to evolve into a term that describes something different than it means today, just as the term “journalist” has evolved. How we choose to use the word “blogger” today will have some impact on how that evolution occurs. I think it would be a shame to discover 100 years from now that the term “blogger” survives, but refers to an amateur or second string writer. But it’s possible.