The Key to Success In a Dynamic Media Environment Is the Ability to Pivot When Pivoting Is What’s Called For
1 Wine Dude notes that Anthony Dias Blue, editor-in-chief of The Tasting Panel, is moderating a panel discussion on “Blogging on Wine and Social Networking: New Tools in Reaching Consumers of Italian Wine” at Vino 2010 in New York. This is apparently ironic, since Mr. Blue waxed snooty about wine bloggers only six months ago, dismissing us as “bitter, carping gadflies” pestering our betters in the establishment media. Of this irony, 1 Wine Dude wrote:
I don’t want to disparage the guy…I just really, really, really hope that dias Blue has had a bit of self-revelation and has seen a turn-around in his thinking since July, or this might get really ugly, really fast. Because the last thing that wineries, PR, and media need to hear is that blogging and social media aren’t important or are somehow full of “barbarian… militant bloggers” (his words, from July), because both are patently false.
Mr. Blue’s apparent transformation reminds me of the way Frank Sinatra, among others, spent the first half of the 1960s insulting rock music and the second half performing covers of Beatles songs. Mr. Blue scorns wine bloggers, but he nonetheless climbs aboard the bandwagon and accepts a gig jawing about how the wine industry can use bloggers to its own advantage.
His appearance on the panel does not, of course, mean that Mr. Blue has suddenly come to respect wine bloggers as a species. That uniform respect would be no more valid than his previous uniform scorn. Of course there are wine bloggers who are bitter, carping gadflies. There are long-published print writers who are bitter and carping, too, and every bit as big a pain in the ass as any blogger. There’s an argument to be made, as Mencken made it, that being a pain in the ass (“afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted”) is the job of every journalist. That’s not an argument one often hears in the wine business, which is remarkably like Hollywood in the way way its media work.
Still, I believe affliction of discomfort led to Mr. Diaz’s July cri de coeur. My guess is that he was feeling the same broad frustration often felt by put-upon elites. They earned their positions and lash out when they don’t get the respect to which they feel they are entitled. Diaz’s screed was, in other words, like every older generation in history shouting at the kids to get the hell off its lawn.
To be fair, his generalizations about wine bloggers, like most generalizations, are not without basis in fact. As in any other endeavor, there are a lot of self-important jerks writing wine blogs. I’ve only been at this a few months and I have days when I think wine blogging — or even commenting on wine blogs — should require a certification of sanity from a licensed health care practitioner.
But still: condemning a new medium and the thousands of people who are bringing it to life, as Mr. Blue did, is not an act of great wisdom. Sinatra had to eat his words about rock’n'roll, and Mr. Blue is likely going to have to belly up to the table at some point for his own serving of crow. Everyone who puts anything in writing and publishes it has moments like that. My bet is that most bloggers will forgive and forget. Some, no doubt, will gloat as only bitter, carping gadflies can gloat.
I sent Mr. Blue an email yesterday, asking what I considered to be clarifying questions about his position on wine blogging. I suspect that his opinion will be more nuanced than the screed he published in July. Mr. Blue, perhaps owing to the holiday season, has not replied to my email. I’ll let you know if he does.
In the meantime, visit The Tasting Panel. It’s a pretty good magazine.