Friendship, Blogging and Irony
I received a bottle of Rockaway Cabernet in the mail today, sent from Rodney Strong Vineyards. A big, heavy bottle. Big Punt. Cool looking label. I’m looking forward to trying it.
But, more important than the bottle’s girth was the opportunity it provided me to reflect on the nature of friendship, blogging and irony. All these things seemed to crash together a few days ago when I wrote on the details of a group blogging/review project involving Rockaway.
It’s Ironic that in accusing a set of wine bloggers, many of whom I call friends, of leaving their readers with an impression that could damage the reputation of wine blogging, I did the very same thing.
My mistake was leaving the impression with you, my readers, that the bloggers involved in an experiment in group wine reviewing of one wine on several different blogs, were acting unethically. I should have known that sticking the caveat in the middle of the blog that they were not could never overcome the impression that the rest of my post left.
Of course it wasn’t just a simple mistake. The typos that regularly show up on this blog…those are mistakes. This impression I left that these bloggers were acting unethically was an insult and uncalled for. And, I should have known better.
On Randy Hall’s and Kaz Kasmier’s Radio Show "Wine Biz Radio", a little while back, I noted that wine bloggers find themselves at a critical and tenuous moment in their history. It is just now that wine bloggers are beginning to be shown a good deal of respect. Yet at the same time, they’ve not accumulated a sufficient cache of credibitly to easily overcome a credibilty or ethical crisis. This is all true. And this is why serious wine bloggers need to be very careful in the way they do the things they do. But this is also the reason my neglect and my mistake was was amplified: it could have easily led to the kind of crisis of credibilty that hurts people and, in this case, wine blogging.
To Deb at "Good Wine Under $20", Tim at "WineCast", Jeff at the "Good Grape", Joe at "1WineDude", Renee at "Feed Me/DrinkMe", Kori at "WinePeeps" and Megan at "WannabeWino", and to my readers, I offer my apologies.
FERMENTATION now attracts between 25,000 and 28,000 unique readers per month, a large percentage of which are involved in the wine trade . That’s pretty decent for a little wine blog. But it’s also a reminder of how careful we need to be if we take serioiusly this medium. I’m going to be more careful.
Despite my mistakes, I remain steadfast in the opinion that sound ethics of the type professional journalists have long championed must guide wine bloggers. And I believe it isn’t enough to simply adhere to those rules. It’s equally important to not even leave an impression, false or otherwise, that a blogger’s or, worse yet, bloggers’ ethics are compromised by them working on behalf of their subject rather than their reader.
I don’t believe any standardized "code of ethics" needs to be adopted by or foisted upon wine bloggers. The rules of the game that apply to those who write for an audience are well established, well vetted and in fine working order.
Simply, if wine blogging is going to continue down its path toward acceptabilty, influence, significance, and, most important, a high quality product, the trust of its readers will be the single most important factor in paving that road.