A New Understanding of Wine Blogs
I've been blogging now for nearly seven years. And as a blogger and as a publicist who concerns himself with the wine media, Ive been watching the wine blog evolve. I concern myself with the wine blogosphere's evolution because I need to serve my clients' needs for reaching out to media. But in addition, I feel very connected to the this wine blogosphere.
All this observation has led me to conclude that the very idea of a "wine blogosphere" may be a false categorization; that the seperateness and apartness from the general or legacy wine media that wine bloggers have cherished as a part of their role really is a false identity.
The apartness and novelty of the wine blog did once ring true when blogs themselves were novel and when the wine trade began to take notice of this gathering of new voices in new places. But after a time, it's beginning to seem like what really was novel was the blogging platform, and not the wine bloggers themsevles. Today, the blogging platform is old hat. And maybe wine bloggers are too.
The one key aspect of the wine blogging platform that changed everything is how it made self publishing truly simple, easy and inexpensive. That was a revolution. It WAS a revolution. Today it is a fact of life.
With this easy of publishing came an explosion of voices for all to hear and read…if they wanted to. This was a novel treat for the wine trade and literate wine lovers who had become accustomed to hearing relatively few voices describe the merits of wines, explain winemaking, suggest wine country travel tips and nosh on the subject of wine and food pairing.
But today, the fact of having many voices spring out at us from all corners isn't much of a novelty. It is an unruly fact of life and the bloggers' voices are packeged tightly among the rising din.
Where wine is concerned there has always been a great shouting match for attention among those who wrote, talked fervently, published, taught and lectured. But few of these voices reached much of an audience. There were always a few who caught our attention and gained acclaim, while most attracted perhaps a dedicated or satisfied few.
This is true today in the world of wine blogs. The vast majority of wine bloggers likely reach no more than 50 to 100 readers a day, if that, while a small handful reach beyond with more impressive readership stats. I'm not prepared to suggest that the better read bloggers are better thinkers, better educated, better writers or better personalities. They might be. But they also might just be hungrier or better marketers.
I think, given all this, is that what we have today is not a wine blogosphere. What we have is what we always had: a wine media—and it includes bloggers, newspaper columnists, newletterists, writers, producers, and publishers.
The equation looks like this:
Eric Asimovs + Robert Parkers + The Wine Spectators + Michelle Lockes + 1WineDudes = THE WINE MEDIA
I beleive that thinking of wine bloggers as separate from the "mainstream wine media" doesn't work, isn't realistic and doesn't accurately reflect the state of the wine media in America.
As this post comes on the eve of the 4th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference, I don't want to suggest that this conference is without merit if the idea of a wine blogosphere is without merit. The Wine Bloggers Conference provides a forum for primarily budding reporters and writers who use the blog platform as their publishing vehicle. And of course it provides a remarkable opportunity for networking and education and camaraderie among a sector of the wine media that has chosen one publishing platform over another.
Now although I understand wine bloggers to be a part of a larger wine media and not the separate paradigm shifting contingent we have often thought we were, it needs to be pointed out that no wine blogger has attracted a readership any great number. What's important to understand about this is that it is not a failure of the platform, but rather a failure of the platform's users. There is nothing about the blogging publishing platform that hinders it from producing a significant voice. Nothing. It's that no one yet utilizing this platform has made themselves so useful that they have broken far from the blogging back.
But they will. Maybe not in 2011. Maybe not by 2015. But they will.
There is no limitation on what the blogging platform can produce for world of wine media. Empires could rise. Great voices shouting out of a blog could take consumers by the throat and lead them down an opinionated path.
The great thing about the Wine Bloggers Conference and one of the reasons I enjoy it so much is that this great voice might be in the room, taking notes, talking to others and hatching a plan.