No More Wine Media


One of the requirements of my particular job is to consume media…lots of it, hourly, seven days a week. The requirement is dictated by the necessity I feel to have a grip on the general cultural and social atmosphere Wark Communication’s clients are working within. There is an ever-changing context of ideas and trends that affects the way most people perceive ideas, products and activities. I feel like a good PR dude needs to have a grasp on this context and its various levels in order to properly represent his clients.

So to that end I consume the delivery vehicle for cultural and social context: media. Once you have the tools on hand,  a good consumption infrastructure set up, and an efficient method for moving through information quickly you’d be surprised just how much information and media you can actually move through. On any given day I’ll get through three newspapers in print, two or three print magazines, five different newspapers on-line, and we haven’t even gotten to the information aggregators on-line.

Four or five times a day I’ll go through my Yahoo homepage where headlines in 40 categories are regularly updates. Bloglines, my blog aggregator, delivers me headlines and partial content for more than 120 different blogs. I check that 2 or three times per day.  Then there are the Google Alerts. I have 26 of those set up that deliver to me constant updates on specific terms I want to follow. Some have to do with clients, others with ideas.

Then there is TV and Radio. TIVO has allowed me to really use this medium in a structured way. In a matter of 30 minutes I can move through 5 hours of news and topical shows before I even get to reruns of the Sopranos. I can find out what is scheduled to be put out over the airwaves concerning wine on any given day in a matter of seconds.

So what’s the point?

I tried something this weekend. I went without media. No newspapers, no Internet, no radio, no Tivo, no magazines. It was sort of a toe-in-the-water kind of thing in preparation for a vacation coming up during which I will consume no media whatsoever.

What did I learn?

1. The withdrawal symptoms kick in very quickly.
2. They are easily overcome by maintaining a close proximity to your family and good jazz.
3. Wine tastes just as good (or bad) with or without having  current reports on it nearby.
4. It’s true that the only way to give context to one’s culture and society is by consuming its media.

I can’t be sure what the totality of the impact of my massive consumption of media is on my life beyond knowing that it surely does impact it in important ways. I’m not worried about that only because I feel like I have no choice but to continue the consumption. For me the issue is how to consume this, and more, in the most efficient manner and whether or not I’m properly evaluating what I consume.

Looking only at the issue of how wine and wine drinkers and the wine industry is presented in the various media, I know that today it is much easy to have a broad understanding of these topics due to the Internet. I used to subscribe to six newspapers a day and every wine publication in the world, and read it all. The Internet not only allows me to continue to do this, but do it more quickly. But in addition, the Internet allows me inside the heads of a different group: those who’s preoccupation is drinking the stuff rather than selling and writing about the stuff. This is new and a product of the Internet’s chat rooms, blogs, bulletin boards and e-mail.

The picture one gets of the world of wine by combining attention to broad cultural and social trends with attention to expressions of wine’s meaning in the media and among individuals is amazingly deep. I don’t see how any marketer of wine can be anything but better at what they do by diving in to this currently changing whirlpool of ideas, notions, and trends.

What bothers me, however, is what a happy and uneventful weekend I experienced these last two days. It was a weekend like many others with the exception of their being no media consumed. I’ll swear to the nearest God that I was brighter, lighter on my feet, more communicative, more wiling to laugh and heard things and people more clearly. Why is this? What are the implications of this?

Now, I don’t recommend to anyone that they ever take a break from all their media consumption. At the very least it’s imperative you check in and read FERMENTATION on a daily, even hourly basis.   This recommendation is for your own good. That said, I’m wondering what the result of cutting yourself off from all media for a period of two weeks will be. Will my perception of wine and the world of wine change drastically as a result? Would that be bad? Bad for business? Perhaps some of you have more experience with th effects of media withdrawal. I’d like to know what I’m about to get myself into.

8 Responses

  1. Fredric Koeppel - March 26, 2007

    yer a brave man, perhaps even avant-garde, but no NY Times on Sunday? That’s tough…..

  2. winehiker - March 26, 2007

    I once was tasked with a classroom project: go without media for a week, then write a report about the experience. I concluded that to go without media, one can easily shut off the radio, computer, TV, etc., and live without them for a week. But to drive a car down the highway, you’re still bombarded by roadside billboards. Sigh….
    That being said, I agree, Tom: in that week, I felt much more connected to the present moment in the absence of the external influences that had crowded my brain. Happiness was definitely a part of that; McLuhan was certainly refutable.
    As to how the absence of media might influence your outlook on all things wine, I can’t say. But I’m curious as to how you’re going to deal with the Winehiker Witiculture imperative, and of course, the start of baseball season!

  3. Michelle - March 26, 2007

    Tom: In 2004, we got caught in Hurricane Ivan in Jamaica. It was traumatic for a number of reasons, obviously. However, it was the first time in several years I’d been cut off from the Internet, TV, telephones … everything was down. No cellular service, no radio. The lack of communication and the inability to know what was going on sent me into panic attacks (the situation was severe and the lack of communication sort of sent me over the edge). I kept having visions of myself at home, with my finger plugged directly into a network jack, digesting information. So yes, the withdrawal can be pretty bad. It’s not like I was checking my email or calling people before the hurricane arrived. In fact, I was drinking at the pool bar and relaxing on the beach instead. But if I’d wanted to, I COULD have called someone or checked my email on the resort computer.
    It was the last time I’ve ever traveled with out a laptop. Even if I’m not using communication tools, I need to know they are available.

  4. Edward - March 26, 2007

    How do you find the time to breath 😉
    I cut down my media consumption some years ago. It’s liberating. I can think about something other than the latest local or national outrage that lasts for no longer than it takes for the next outrage to develop. . .
    Much harder and even more rewarding, than cutting down on media – is switching off the mobile phone!

  5. Christian Miller - March 27, 2007

    Interesting and thoughtful commentary. And yet, all I could keep thinking was: what the hell is going on in that photo?

  6. Jeff Lefevere - March 28, 2007

    Good post, Tom. I think you and I share a similar sensibility in media consumption and I frequently feel something of a burden to consume information, much to the chagrin of my wife.
    Good stuff here, though I would still pack a book or three for your vacation, even if it’s not wine related. I couldn’t go cold turkey for that long, I’d be reading the back of Fanta soda cans.

  7. Bryan - March 29, 2007

    Tom — great post. I’ve been a fan of your site for a while.
    I’ve been a wine lover for a long time, but only in the last few months have I really started to keep up with the industry, the trends, and the tasting. I am enrolled in a wine class taught by two Masters of Wine, and I’m tasting between 15-20 wines a week. I even started a blog about learning about wine. But what I’ve had the most trouble with is keeping up with all of the media that I consume on a daily basis.
    I’ve noticed in learning about wine that this industry is one of the faster growing in the “blogosphere.” There are a lot of knowledgeable folks like yourself out there blogging about the state of the wine world, and missing a day now seems agonizing, like missing a meal. By day, I am an information architect — I’m responsible for helping companies organize and manage a great deal of information, so I know a thing or two about information withdrawal.
    Still, I think I agree with your post. The wine tastes the way it does regardless about what we say about it. As someone who is invested in learning about wine, I can do all of the reading I want, but the best way to learn about wine is currently breathing in the bottom of my glass.

  8. Eindhoven Stratumseind - March 26, 2008

    Until now, the foods I’ ve sampled for this section have all come from the supermarket. Then one day I realized that a perfectly viable“ Steve Don’ t Eat It” candidate has been sitting right under my nose for months. Right in my very own refrigerator. And it came right out of my wife! No, I’ m not talking about that giant cucumber, perv. I’ m talking about breast milk.

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