Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Influence of Blogs - Continued

Fellow oenoblogger, Tom from the top-notch Fermentations, responds to the question I posed in yesterday's post about bloggers forcing a top CNN executive to resign: "How long before oenobloggers make similar marks?"

Tom makes two very important and accurate assertions in answering this question.
  • The best mainstream wine jouranlists have many advantages over bloggers in that they: work full-time in writing about wine, have access to resources like editors and benefit from industry contacts that only come with experience and credibility.
  • Oenobloggers are still collectively trying to figure what they want to be when they grow up - how to build an audience, how to become relevant, etc.
Tom concludes and answers that he "wouldn't count on" wine bloggers making a similar mark.

First of all, what did I mean by making "similar marks?" I don't think any wine blogger is looking to force a resignation or cause harm. I believe making a mark would entail causing the mainstream wine media and their readers to take notice of this small, budding on-line wine community and the information/opinions it has to offer. Making a BIG mark might include actually persuading a change in how and what the mainstream wine media reports (e.g. style, frequency, mode).

Second, I think Tom is wrong to say he "wouldn't count on" oenobloggers making a mark. Will a wine blogger ever attain Parker or Spectator influence? Probably not, but 25 years ago Parker was an unknown, unqualified voice too. Is that oenoblogging great hope around today? Not yet, but I'm optimistic someone will step up.

Third and last, to further illustrate my point, consider a recent thread of on the e-Robert Parker discussion board. The thread took esteemed wine writer Michael Broadbent to task (rather ruthlessly) for some off-the-record comments he made at a London dinner regarding the globalization of wine (The full story is detailed by the thread's originator and oenoblogger, Jamie Goode, who had no ill intent in initiating his post). Discussion of Broadbent's comments reached a furious pace and brought in over 50 posters and hundreds of comments on both sides of the debate. Broadbent, not an internet user, was faxed pages upon pages of this commentary by his son, a discussion board member. Broadbent replied and defended himself and his comments on the discussion board. Certainly he wasn't forced to resign or retire from wine writing - not even close. But he's taken notice of this on-line wine community - it's opinions and reach.

Upon reflection, I can't really answer my own question as to "how long" before oenobloggers make a mark. But how about a new question, "will oenobloggers one day make a mark?"

I'd count on it.