The Ultimate Wine News Web Site?
Rupert Murdoch, the very walking, breathing definition of Mogul" recently offered a challenge to he news media. His message: Get with the digital program or be left behind. In a rambling talk on the future of newspapers, their presentation on the Internet, the power of news portals, editors’ lack of understanding of what its readers want and the necessity to accommodate the younger readers, Murdoch essentially laid out a future of the newspaper.
In one interesting comment that affects speaks to the rise of blogging, Murdoch suggested that bloggers should be included on newspaper sites. This got me thinking of the state of wine news and information as presented on the Net.
If you wanted a single source of wine news to go to on the net, where would you head? Is there any one site that is presenting all wine news, all the time? The answer is no. Should there be such a site? The answer is yes. Will there be such a site soon? The answer is probably not.
There was once a site on the net that attempted this heroic feat. Winetoday.com, owned by the New York Times Company, made a good stab at it during the height of the Internet book in the late 1990s. it has a full staff or reporters across the globe, directories of wineries, a rating panel, news feeds, bulletin boards. But it failed to be profitable. It simply couldn’t bring enough eyeballs to the site to garner the advertising dollars to support it. And one has to ask if there are enough wine loving eyeballs out there to achieve this status with any kind of ambitious wine news website.
Today there are a couple sites that try to be the king of wine news sites. The Wine Spectator’s Online edition is one. Everything on this site is produced by the M. Shanken Company, the umbrella company that owns the Wine Spectator as well as other food and industry related publications. It also is home to a moderately active bulletin board of contentious wine lovers.
It is a good website, but it really doesn’t offer enough updated content to make it the powerhouse wine news site that is possible.
Popping Corks is a recently created wine news aggregator site that is full of potential. It, very simply, lists links to wine news and wine reviews found across the Internet. If it could create a more comprehensive listing of wine related news items on the site drawn from newspapers, blogs, wine forums, podcasts and other wine sites, categorize all these items in an easy to understand and easy to access way you would have the quintessential wine information portal. It might get there one day but clearly more investment is needed. But it’s on the right track.
Decanter.com, the online presentation of Decanter Magazine out of England is also a nicely run wine information site, but it too suffers from not quite being comprehensive enough. If you want the Decanter or Wine Spectator "take" on all things wine then these two sites do a fine job.
But the site that people flock to because they know everything they want will be there doesn’t exist….yet.
The issue is not that we don’t know what a comprehensive wine information website would look like. And it’s not an issue of the technology not being there to create what is necessary. The problem is marketing. How does one bring enough eyeballs to a Wine News Portal site to pay for and make a profit on the extraordinary amount of time and money it would take to build and maintain this web site? Answer this question and you will see the emergence of something special.