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Blogging dead? Blogging alive? Can we please stop this nonsense?

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Joe Roberts AKA 1WineDude blogged yesterday that “wine blogging isn’t dead,” in reaction to Jamie Goode, who blogged a while back that “Blogging is dead…sort of.”

Joe began his post with “I hate this debate.” I hate it too, young Jedi dude. I really do. It’s the dumbest debate in the world, for the most obvious reasons: it’s not really a debate, nobody really disagrees with anyone else, nobody’s defining terms, and besides, who cares?

Yet like a moth to a flame, or maybe a rubbernecker gaping at a horrendous auto accident, I’m drawn to the flame, to the hideousness of the issue. Joe argues, correctly, that wine blogs are more popular than ever, to judge by the numbers.

But what did Jamie really say? “[T]he golden age of blogging has passed…blogs have never really fulfilled their promise…”. I’m afraid I have some questions for Jamie. How do you define “the golden age” of blogs, or of anything, for that matter? When was the golden age of rock and roll? The Fifties? Sixties? Seventies? Now? A case could be made for any decade. I think a lot more time is going to have to go by before we can define wine blogging’s golden age. As for blogs not fufilling their promise, well, you’d have to say what that promise was before you can declare whether or not it’s been fulfilled. So let’s take a closer look at that.

To the extent there was an implied promise about wine blogs around 2008 (when I started, a relative latecomer to the game), it was this: Print is dead or soon will be. Blogs will take over the field of wine criticism and writing. Of course, that was a silly proposition. Print certainly was suffering, but it wasn’t because of wine blogs, it was because the Recession was killing the advertising upon which print depends. I said back then that print would bounce back when the Recession lightened, and that’s exactly what’s happening.

Implied in the premise, too, was the assumption that a younger generation would be getting all its information digitally, not on paper, but the big mistake the “Print is dead, long live blogs” people made was to assume that print publishing was static. It’s not. All the major print wine magazines are well into the process of going digital, and I doubt that there’s a wine blog in the entire world that can equal the traffic that any reputable wine magazine has. So I would tend to agree with Jamie that “blogs haven’t fulfilled their promise.” But that’s not to say they can’t. As Joe Roberts points out, wine blogging is “about Kindergarten age.” It’s just a pup. Give it time to grow up, and let’s see what it morphs into.

I do totally agree with Jamie that wine bloggers have an annoying habit of “lavishing praise on frankly mediocre wines just because the producer has thrown a blogger tasting, or is keen on social media and attends blogger conferences.” One of the reasons I have so little interest in the Wine Bloggers Conference anymore has to do with precisely that. On the other hand, most wine bloggers can only afford to taste the wines sent to them for free, which tend to be mediocre (not saying all are, and by the way “mediocre” doesn’t mean bad, it means “ordinary,” which is what most wines are).

And I also totally agree with Jamie that blogging is just one instrument in a suite that includes writing books, regular magazine contributions, public speaking and other forms of communication. Joe Roberts agrees with that, too, I’m sure, because it’s the career he’s trying to build. So really, on closer inspection, there’s not much daylight between Joe and Jamie.

It’s time to end these “debates” about whether wine blogging is dead, alive, on life support, growing, shrinking or whatever. It’s beginning to look like navel-gazing.

  1. Easy there, bison! The “beeeeatch…” comment was NOT AT ALL directed at Jamie, it’s just a turn of slang phrase. I have a TON of respect and admiration for that guy, I do NOT want this turning into a “Joe called Jamie this-or-that” thing. I can stand by that as the truth because I know exactly what I was thinking when I wrote it. :) So would appreciate you amending that if you think it’s warranted. Thanks.

    Otherwise, I welcome any comments for/against my take on the question of whether or not blogging is dead, etc.

    Cheers.

  2. Wow, Joe Roberts just called Steve Heimoff large, hairy and horned! This mud slinging has to stop! ;)

    Seriously, all of the above are correct. But why does that mean bloggers/writers/critics/wannabees should end the discourse that is in fact interesting to think about. All aspects of this wildly diverse yet exceptionally narrow industry should be discussed as much as humanly possible. The more people talk about wine, the more people learn about wine and isn’t increased conversation what blogs are all about. We all know Napa makes cabernet and some good ones at that. Does that mean we should stop writing about Napa cab? It is starting to look like cork gazing. Hmmm…..

    Oh, and Steve, if you don’t like your belly button showing stop wearing bikinis… ;)

  3. Joe wrote:

    “The more people talk about wine, the more people learn about wine and isn’t increased conversation what blogs are all about.”

    That’s what wine blogs are about? I wish I’d known that a long time ago. I would have launched a blog about what celebrities are drinking, rather than about the business of wine.

    By the way, why is there no place to read about what Cameron Diaz drank while dining out?

  4. Tom, Joe didn’t write that, but thanks for confusing us (though I am at least an inch taller). Your blog is an important part of the increased wine conversation. Don’t you think that you blog educates consumers/industry members about the wine world? How does my comment contradict what you/Joe/Steve are doing with your blogs?

  5. Tom Wark: I’m having dinner with Cameron tonight and will let you know what she drinks!

  6. OK I took out the beeeeach thing!

  7. Maybe when wine blogs reach their young adult phase they will ALL stop using terms like beeeeeeach, puleeeez and shizzle!!

  8. Dear Rick S., day-umm! Give us bloggers a break!

  9. Rick S – I’m 40, there’s little (actually no) chance of the style changing now on 1WD. I you’re not a fan of that, it’s cool, and I can point you to, oh, around 650 other wine blogs to try instead… ;-)

  10. Wine blogging died a long time ago. In fact, aside from the terminology, it was borne dead.

    What we call blogging, and mind you, my daily offerings also masquerade under the name “Blog”, are really just journalism. They always were, and they always will be. That they are published on the Internet does not change what they are. It just makes them easy to present because, aside from the few sources of established journalism, there were very few opportunities to for folks to try their hands at journalism.

    We have all lamented the poor writing in some “blogs” and praised the good writing in others, but, frankly, they are either good journalism or they are not.

    What has happened in the past couple of years is that blogging has matured, and thus, it now gets held up to journalistic standards. That is not to say that all blogs need to meet the level of quality of the top wine pubs (or descend to it if that is your belief), but we can now say that good writing is good writing, and we do not need Wine Blog Awards to tell us so.

  11. Interesting. I’ve been studying and arguing about traditional and citizen journalism for a while now. Wine blogging, or any other blogging for that matter, isn’t dead. It’s just that traditional news organizations are quickly adapting to the ways of the blogger (being a facilitator rather than a lecturer) and blogging is now the norm in digital media. Only everybody, especially professional journalists, are doing it. So while blogging is not dead (it’s very much alive) it is also no longer “Cool” or fashionable. It just is.

    For the record, I’m a newbie. Been a magazine writer for quite sometime but new to the wine blogging trade. I do it for me… and my personal love of wine.

  12. Lara: I like your comment that blogging “just is.” That’s a good way to describe it. Kind of like Pluto: it doesn’t matter if it’s a planet or an asteroid or some lost moon, it’s still Pluto.

  13. Steve,

    You write, “I doubt that there’s a wine blog in the entire world that can equal the traffic that any reputable wine magazine has.”

    Wine Advocate’s subscription base peaked at 50,000. Rumor has it that it’s now about 30,000.

    The top wine blogs (Vinography, etc.) undoubtedly have more visitors each month than that.

  14. David White: Unless I’m mistaken, Wine Advocate is subscription, which limits its numbers. I myself have more unique visitors per month than 50,000.

  15. Steve–

    Not only is Wine Advocate a subscription-only newsletter, and thus, as you say, not going to have the expansive base that WS, WE and other slick paper mags enjoy, but it has a website, and that website likely dwarfs Vinography for monthly hits.

    No disrespect meant to Vinography and Alder, of course, but free versus expensive and self-limiting are pretty close to an apples and oranges comparison.

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