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Commentary | 1 Wine Dude - Page 57

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Ethics and Wine Blogging (or "Ouch! I’ve Got a Neck Cramp From All This Navel-Gazing!")

Vinted on August 29, 2008 binned in commentary, wine industry events

Oooooooooooooohhhhh boy.

Seems I can’t go a week these days without getting embroiled in one wine blogging controversy or another.

Let’s see… how do I recap this so it’s not mind-numbingly boring for people who came here thinking they might be reading about wine?

See, apparently, that’s not what wine bloggers like to do anymore (I know… I didn’t get the memo, either!). Instead, they talk about themselves… which will be cool to do during the upcoming Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma, but isn’t so cool to do on wine blogs themselves.

Where readers come to, well, read about wine stuff.

And not to read about wine blogger navel gazing stuff.

But… in this case I will need to talk a bit about wine blogging because it actually involves YOU – the readers of wine blogs (I know this is difficult now… but someday, I think you’ll forgive me, and our relationship will grow stronger… and we’ll finally take that get-away-from-it-all trip to Vancouver tat we’ve been planning… just the two of us…).

Whoops. Sorry, got distracted.

Let’s recap: Regular 1WD dot com readers will recall that I was part of an innovative blogging experiment, headed up by Jeff over at GoodGrape.com, to be among a select group of bloggers to taste the innagural release of Rockaway Vineyard, a new allocated California Cab.

Apparently, a bunch of other wine bloggers didn’t like that.

Tom Wark (fermentation.typepad.com) and Steve Heimoff of Wine Enthusiast (www.steveheimoff.com) in particular both questioned the ethics of the experiment participants for agreeing to write about Rockaway as a condition of taking part in the experiment (and receiving an advanced sample of the wine). Tim over at Winecast.net has a great summary of the whole thing, which you can check out here.

The funny thing is, no one who’s written about the ethics of the experiment has yet to validate their assumptions with either Rockaway or the participants.

Whoops…


I tried to clear things up on Tom’s blog in his comments, but let’s just say it ain’t easy convincing a group of green cheese lovers that the moon is made of rock. Even when you’ve got a sample stone in your hand.

For those of you who still care (sorry, I’m trying to make it as “non-boring” as possible), I actually have a Code of Ethics that’s been posted on my site for well over a year. As far as I can tell, it wasn’t violated by me taking part in this experiment. Sure, I agreed to write an article, but I agreed that with my editor (Jeff at Good Grape), not with a winery. And I didn’t see anything wrong in an editor stipulating receipt of an article as grounds for participation.

I mean…. DUUUUUUH…. wouldn’t a journalist get fired for consistently not producing articles for an editor by a deadline? If not, then I’ve changed my mind, and I really do want to be a journalist! Sounds like a sweet gig!

Instead of talking about ethics, maybe wine bloggers should be talking about Journalism 101 and Reading Comprehension? Or (egads!), wine?

Anyway – now you’ve got the background, and you’ve got my take, and you’ve got my Code of Ethics. And that is important, to me at least – I’m writing this blog because it’s fun, but mostly because I genuinely love sharing wine knowledge with you. I’m certainly not writing it for other wine bloggers (though they’re more than welcome to participate).

I trust that you’re smart people, and all-grown-up adults (at least, I hope so considering you’re reading a blog about an alcoholic beverage…), and therefore I trust that you can make up your own minds about my ethics.

Which reminds me…

THANK YOU to those who have contacted me with your words of encouragement and support. It’s literally kept me from hanging up my bloggin’ spurs these past couple of weeks. And for that, you have my (possibly non-journalistic and unethical) gratitude, always!

Cheers!
(image: calgarysun.com)

Don’t Feed the Trolls Part Deux: Tales from the Snake-Pit

Vinted on August 25, 2008 binned in commentary

Remember earlier today, when I said it was “Non-Post Week” here at 1WineDude.com?

Ok, so I lied.

Well, I didn’t intend to lie, it just, kind of… you know… happened.

I’m interrupting (already!) our previously scheduled ‘Non-Post’ week non-event to share with you a link to my buds over at Wine Biz Radio, who were kind enough to have me on today’s episode of their radio show / podcast, where I discuss my thoughts on the recent Wine Spectator chaos, as well as my recent experience “interacting” in their on-line forum (a.k.a, “the snake-pit“).

Check it out here: http://winebizradio.com/articles/winebizradio-20080825/ .

Ok. Back to not posting. I promise this time!

Cheers!
(image: thage.com.au)

Don’t Feed the Trolls: How NOT to Respond to Public Criticism

Vinted on August 23, 2008 binned in commentary

By now, many of you will already have heard about the controversy surrounding Wine Spectator’s restaurant awards that unfolded into the mainstream media this week.

This topic is getting about as visible a media treatment as the wine world ever gets, so I won’t rehash the complete story here. To get us all up to speed and on the same page, the sequence of events goes something like this (in the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, “Let me explain. No – is not time; lemme sum up!”):

Regardless of which side of this issue you stand, if you’re like me you’re probably scratching your head as to why WS chose an on-line forum post as the, well, forum to use for publishing their defense of the Restaurant Awards process. Especially considering that this event is all over the news right now.

The problem with this approach is that the WS forum is full of “trolls,” and has become a hotbed of negativity.

I can vouch for this personally…


In my attempts to open a discource with the editors of WS (to better understand why their initial response did not include any details regarding if/how the Awards process would be examined to ensure it maintains credibility), I had to go to the WS forums. After all, that’s where the WS editors posted their response in the first place.

I (and other wine bloggers) have been greeted there with a negativity unbecoming of a long-running institution such as WS. While the editors, for the most part, have been civil in their responses, some of the forum members have been downright nasty. I’ve had to endure blogging being dismissed as “lazy journalism,” and having my SWE and CSW credentials called fakes. Little (if any) moderation seems to be taking place in the forum at the moment, and new forum members are told to “STFU” and “go away.” Even senior WS editor James Suckling seemed to get into negative mode when addressing particularly vehement criticism on the forum.

Of course, not all of the forum members are acting in a negative way, but enough are being malicious to prevent an appropriate discourse with the WS editors. When I asked the forum members why new posters were greeted with that level of negativity, I was told it’s the equivalent of “initiation.”

Hazing is more like it.

Here’s my simple plea to the editors of WS:

If you’re going to allow your on-line forums to be the equivalent of a shark tank, then please put your response to Goldstein’s criticism into the hands of a PR director, where it belongs. Otherwise, those of us looking for constructive, open discourse on the topic of WS’ restaurant awards have nowhere to turn.

As long as your on-line forum remains the primary vehicle for your response to the Goldstein event, you will be promoting the impression that you are not taking the matter seriously.

It’s not events like this that make or break your credibility; it’s your response to events like this that make it or break it.

Cheers!

(image: salagir.com)

Wine Mags that are Worth Reading

Vinted on August 20, 2008 binned in commentary, learning wine

Asking me what wine mags to read is sort of like asking me what television shows are worth watching. I access them so infrequently, that I’m in danger of being totally irrelevant in my commentary.

But what the hell, it’s never stopped me before!

I also get bored easily, so committing to reading an entire magazine or watching an entire TV show in one sitting doesn’t always appeal to me (though longer formats, like books and movies, are no problem; oh, the irony…). Plus, I can’t stand obnoxious advertisements, and I swear I can actually feel my brain cells dying just watching a few seconds of most TV commercials.

And if there are brain cells that need a-killin’, I prefer to do that via the consumption of tasty vino!

Anyway, here are two of my quick picks in the Wine Mag. department…:


Best Traditional Mag: Wine & Spirits Magazine
Is it snooty? Sure, it’s snooty – but it’s well-written, award-winning snooty. Despite it’s title being a bit of a misnomer (Spirits are often relegated to just one page), it’s a useful mag. in that it offers good, terse commentary on the wines that it reviews.

The often highlight good wine dining picks as well, along with features on up & coming wine directors / sommeliers – which can be handy when you’re traveling and looking for some excellent wine-related eats.

Most importantly, they also devotes special focus to value picks, which is the category where the vast majority of wine lovers are looking for help and recommendations.

Most Promising Up-&-Comer: Mutineer Magazine
Is it smarmy? Sure, it’s smarmy, in the same way that MAXIM is a bit too pleased with itself – a style appreciated most by 20-somethings who don’t know any better, but also appealing to 30-somethings who do know better, but don’t care anyway and can therefore appreciate the small touches of irony sprinkled throughout the articles.

I asked Alan Kropf, Mutineer’s Editor, about their mission: “I started the Mutineer to try and create a way for unexperienced drinkers to experience the world of fine beverage. A lot of people get frustrated with wine being so stuffy, so we saw an opportunity for a magazine like Mutineer Magazine to come about.

Lots of wine bloggers will find solidarity in that, since it’s the reason many of us decided to start blogging in the first place.

And I can seriously dig that.

Cheers!


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