Once upon a time there was a semi-famous writer who penned for a big glossy wine magazine. Short in stature, but tall on ego, he sought to school the new breed of wine critic — the wine blogger.
Beware Strange Bedfellows
When a reporter/critic gets too close to her subject, there’s too great a chance for a conflict of interest or, at least, the appearance of one. I recognized, at the height of the tempest, that it’s flattering for a blogger to be given special treatment by a winery, but it’s vital to resist the temptation to succumb to flattery. Wineries don’t love critics because we’re warm and fuzzy. They pretend to love us because we can help, or hurt, them economically.
Posts the writer, following his appearance at the very first Wine Blogger Conference where his topic “Wine Blogger Credibility” takes aim at bloggers who receive samples and then write about them. At the time he is writing for a Big Glossy Magazine — where he receives samples of wine and writes about them. Well, except for the sample those bloggers got. Seems the winery bypassed him and went straight to bloggers. So, post panel he attacks a fellow woman wine blogger on his digital wine column, copying and pasting parts of her post and providing his sage advice. I say digital wine column, because at that time he does not count himself among the unwashed masses of “wine bloggers.” Rather, he calls himself a “wine journalist.”
Six months or so later, he goes after ANOTHER woman blogger, lumping her in with what he called “mommy bloggers.”
When you all bring up the subject of experience, I think about the so-called mommy bloggers and their experience. These bloggers are all over the board, from blogs from women about their first child, to moms that adopt, moms that have a few kids, moms that have children in college. Of course, I could go on and on… With mommy bloggers as well as with Wine Bloggers.”
Again, he cautions his readers to stay far away from wine blogging shills!
The worst thing a wine blog can do is to shill, however inadvertantly (sic), for a winery or region. The minute I read about someone’s “delightful” visit to so-and-so, they’ve lost me. Visits may indeed be delightful, but the writer shouldn’t say so, because it just sounds — I don’t know — smarmy and credulous.
Always quick to defend a damsel, distressed or not, Joe takes the Big Glossy Mag writer to task in his “Beware of Wine Bloggers!”
More pile on with comments here, some defending the writer, and others, the blogger. One of those defenders is a “sock puppet,” whose internet IP address we trace back to the Big Glossy Magazine. We figure it is the writer not wanting to “lower himself” to commenting on a BLOG, and call him out. The writer then emails Joe and a battle of words ensue. Big Glossy Mag writer accuses Joe of bigotry. Now Joe might be a lot of things to a lot of people — but a bigot, he is not. He assures the writer that the perceived insult was not meant as it was taken, and gives said writer some advice on dealing with bloggers in a more constructive manner. The writer then asks to keep the email conversation on the down-low and Joe agrees.
Fast forward a year and said writer addresses the bloggers at another Wine Blogger Conference, as “a fellow blogger.” Because what is more appropriate than a guy who repeatedly disdains wine bloggers addressing those same bloggers as if he were a much-lauded one of them? Imagine our surprise when a portion of his talk is nearly verbatim to Joe’s emails to him, with no attribution. Not just the “zingers” he reports were flung at him — but the more erudite parts of his speech.
Imagine our further surprise when after the conference he writes of those who thank him for “his” words of wisdom and new-found insight. Nary a nod to the author of some of those remarks. We think about posting the emails, and outing the guy, but Joe has given his word.
Besides that, I believe karma rewards folks according to their deeds or misdeeds.
So when the guy recycles his 2008 weaselgram in 2013, we cannot help but assume he must be very busy or perhaps lazy or just plain desperate for readers to post such a stale, inflammatory post. By this time, the star is rising for the first woman blogger he attacked. She has no time for blogging, because she is working in the wine industry, getting promotion after promotion and moving to bigger and better things. The second woman blogger? She’s a PR and social media consultant — recently named one of the 20 most influential in Sonoma County.
Will Write, for Wine (and Money)!
One day, the writer announces he is leaving the Big Glossy Magazine to work in “communications” at a winery. Not just any winery, but a winery whose wines he reviewed for the Big Glossy Mag with words like “superb” “monumental” “opulent” “impeccable” and “tremendous!”
I recall his words posted not once, but twice….
When a reporter/critic gets too close to her subject, there’s too great a chance for a conflict of interest or, at least, the appearance of one…
He Does Not Care about You!
For some reason, this guy shows up on a panel AGAIN at a wine blogger conference! Again, he seeks to school the bloggers, this time going after a THIRD woman blogger and her wine tourism piece, cautioning her and the other bloggers “not to ‘get spun’ by [y]our subjects.” She tells us he adds pointedly -— “ Jean-Charles Boisset is not your friend. He does not care about you.”
It seems the aforementioned winery and said former Big Glossy Mag writer have parted ways after just over a year. He says he now will be offering his services as a consultant to wineries. In addition, he is again reviewing wines — not that he ever stopped, he says. Why he reviewed the wines for his former employer’s newsletter, while he was in their employ! But his new reviews may come with a twist. He says, he’s “playing around with the idea of charging a reviewing fee.”
Seriously? This from a guy who admonished the lowly bloggers in 2008, and again in 2013, with
“If a winery pays a blogger, then that blogger can have no credibility whatsoever about anything he writes concerning the winery.”
Bless. His. Heart.