Amplifying Insight in Wine Communications
Who in the wine communications industry deserves our respect and our amplification and how do we choose which voices to lift up.
I was motivated to consider this question after writing the other day about the coming Wine Media Conference. Most of the communicators at this coming conference are not part of the “Wine First String” that gets most of the attention. But if the history of wine blogging tells us anything, it is that inside the contingent of writers, podcasters and communicators who will attend the conference in Eugine in August, there will be yet to be celebrated voices that, once amplified by others, will prove to be very valuable voices. But…how to spot them.
Most of us, in one way or another, are in a position to promote others and their ideas. Some have larger platforms to do so and can make a significant difference in a communicator’s or writer’s life by doing just this. Others might have moderate to small social media followings and can also lift a voice that seems to matter.
We each could spend all day uplifting people and their ideas without regard to quality or potential. But that can only lead to diminishing one’s own reputation for discernment.
Thinking only now of the written word, for me, it is the voice that demonstrates both careful and entertaining writing skills with the propensity for real insight into a topic These people are few and far between, but they are easily spotted, particularly if you read widely and across the wineverse.
Among those who stood out immediately for me upon coming across them were Ron Washam (“Hosemaster of Wine), Alder Yarrow (Vinography), Amber LeBeau (SpitBucket), Dorthy Gaiter (WSJ/Wine Collective), Jeff Lefevere (The Good Grape), Deborah Harkness (Good Wine Under $20), Jaime Goode (Wine Anorak), Chris Kassel (Intoxicology Report) and Meg Houston Maker (Terroir Review).
Some of these folks no longer write. Some have gone on to bigger and better things from when I first encountered them. Some continue to make their voices heard. But these folks and others caught my attention because they all took on a subject and added to it with genuine insight that was uncommon in discussions of their subject matter. Some applied real writing chops to a sub-genre of wine writing that didn’t often see such talent. Others were just so damn good at projecting authority and knowledge that it demanded your attention.
But for me, in the end, it’s insight. The power to see something that is not obvious and communicate it in a compelling way. This is what catches my attention and it’s a rare quality. It’s what I shoot for in my writing but almost always miss.
Wine Bloggers and early wine podcasters were often dismissed as wannabees, pretenders, inelegant, or, at best, harmless. Those views changed when some pretty insightful and interesting voices (see above) emerged. And this ability of blogs and digital communications to level the playing field and give anyone access to the masses is what makes the Wine Media Conference so enticing. It is likely to have among its attendees the next voice.
If we are going to carefully or casually engage in lifting up voices, there really is one set of criteria that ought to be in evidence first: talent and insight. Amplifying for the sake of amplifying is no help to those you choose to serve.