On The Wane
It’s fairly unusual for this blog to reprint comments for the sake of a new post. But in this case, I think it’s warranted, despite my better judgment—which some would say is on the wane and they may prove to be right
"The whole thing boils down to a claim that it is "unethical" to commit to writing an unbiased review as a condition to receive a bottle of wine. When pressed as to exactly why that is unethical, how it devalues the unbiased review, the answer is, uselessly, "because it is unethical." Sure, it is said in different ways, but those ways are nonsensical. "It makes you an Rodney Strong employee." Really? How? Did Dr. Debs get a W-2? Did she get a 1099 as a contractor? Does her family depend upon her ongoing relationship? No? I didn’t think so….
"Tom, you are wrong. You are not only wrong, you are hurtful, condescending, and even pedantic."
When a client comes to Wark Communications, the relationship that evolves usually works like this:
-The CLIENT agrees to give me something
-I, in exchange, agree to do something in a given time frame.
-There is no guarantee that they’ll like what I give them.
-They usually do.
Like it or not, a person who writes about or reviews a product they have no association with is working as a reporter, a critic, a commentator. There is a silent agreement that has always existed between the writer and their audience: The audience will give their time to the writer because they believe the writer is working on their own time, not on the time or on the condition of the subject of their work.
This silent agreement is the foundation of both reporting and criticism. Whether or not the content of a writer’s work is an honest assessment of their subject, when this agreement is broken, the writer risks breaking down the most important thing this agreement is supposed to facilitate: trust.
Was the breech of journalism’s and criticism’s conventions and ethics that surrounds the experiment with Rodney Strong so terrible that it puts some sort of nail in the coffin of wine blogging? No. But it is the kind of crack that gives keen observers of wine blogging an opportunity to claim the blogging medium is "not reporting", "not real criticism", "not real journalism", "easily corrupted".
So what! This is all insider baseball and it doesn’t harm my readers. It’s no big deal to those who look to wine blogs for inspiration and education and entertainment. And no one’s positive impressions were bought. It’s just wine anyway.
But the "so what" of it is this: There are people who believe, passionately, that there is a real possibility that the unique idea of the "citizen wine writer" exemplified for the first time by the wine blogosphere can actually make a substantial change for the better in the way people talk about, enjoy, understand and appreciate wine. The chance of this change actually occurring depends entirely on the wine blogosphere and its citizen journalists being seen as honest brokers; as ethical commentators; as free from liabilities that come with being trapped by the common accusations of compromise that are often flung at traditional wine publications—deservedly or not.
What I think is this. I think a mistake was made in demanding that bloggers write about this wine in exchange for receiving it. And I think a mistake was made in demanding that the wine be written about within a certain time frame as a condition of receiving it. I think this mistake was made due to exuberance that results from realizing that wine blogs can indeed be exactly as I described them above and that by participating in what is a noble experiment, that potential to change how wine is appreciated might be confirmed sooner rather than later.
No one has been accused of being "dishonest or stupid", not at this blog, dhonig. They’ve been accused of making a mistake; of not thinking something through; of not readily seeing the consequences of not thinking something through.
I’m one of those people who does believe passionately that wine blogging has the potential to change for the better the way wine is appreciated. I actually get a little giddy when I see a really well done blog post or come across a newly discovered blog that I think is really well done and valuable. And I really hope this comes through to my readers because I learned that it is an unquestionable fact of life that giddiness breeds giddiness. And the more people that get giddy about wine blogging and its potential, the sooner that potential is reached.
As a result, I find my self writing about blogging and blogs fairly often. But I write about everything I see. So let me make a suggestion regarding these observations I try to make: They are always clearer when you take off the rose colored glasses.
One final thing, dhonig:
1.ostentatious in one’s learning.
2.overly concerned with minute details or formalisms
For the record, the target of an insult is suppose to be offended by it.