Bloggers, Credibility and Wine Writer Surveys
Take a close look at this chart. It comes from the recently released 2010 American Wine Writer Survey and outlines some differences between those that have been writing about wine for 5 years or less and those writing about wine for 20 years or more.
The first thing to take note of is the use of social media tools like blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The less time someone has been writing about wine, the more likely they are to use social media tools. Clearly writers with less experience are younger and we know that younger folks are more enthusiastic about social media. I think this is something of great importance to know.
But the one difference that is also striking is the attitudes toward bloggers. More experienced writers simply don't have nearly the confidence in the credibility of bloggers as less experienced bloggers who, as it turns out, are much more likely to maintain a blog. But that's not the point. The point is that those writing about wine the longest really are not inclined to find bloggers to be trustworthy. The big question here is, DO THEY HAVE A POINT???
The question in the survey that led to this response did not define "Trustworthy". However, lets assume that those who read the question understood that "trustworthiness" was a good thing and let's further assume that not having a lot of trust is a bad thing.
In my view, the single most important point that would lead anybody, and in particular experienced wine writers, to downplay the credibility and trustworthiness of a blogger is the well know fact that there is absolutely no gatekeeper when it comes to who can publish a blog. There is no pre-assessment of the talent and skills of a wine blogger prior to their publishing. There is no editor that evaluates their skills and gives the blogger the job of writing about wine. Bottom line: A fourteen year old girl inhabiting the attic of her mother's home on the North Dakota border with Canada and suffering from delusions can as easily start writing and publishing a wine blog as the most experienced wine writer living in the heart of Wine Country.
The question is: Is there evidence in the wine blogging world that this "hole in the fense" tends to produce wine bloggers that have the primary quality of being poor writers and ignorant in the ways of wine?
Sure there are.
But you know what, there are many such pathetic excuses for wine bloggers. The majority it seems are pretty decent at describing why they liked the wine they tasted last night and of sharing wine news with their readers accompanied by sparse and inconsequential commentary.
Put another way, there remains a bias against bloggers that has the effect of diminishing the over all perception of the talent of bloggers. However—and this is important—it means the REALLY GOOD wine bloggers and even the DARNED GOOD wine bloggers stand out like soar thumbs.
This is an entirely different situation compared with wine writers who are given columns in small market magazines and newspapers. By virtue of having the cover of a credible publisher, their talents are given much more of a benefit of the doubt…despite the fact that they may not be anywhere near as good as a DARNED GOOD wine blogger or certainly of a REALLY GOOD wine blogger.
Credibilty and trustworthiness tends to be more readily bestwoed on those who have the benefit fo "being published" by a reputable publisher. Should they have this advantage? It doesn't matter. They do.
And so, for wine bloggers, here's the take away: Do you want more immediate acceptance as a credible and trustworthy voice among more people? Get a print column in your local newspaper.