08 December 2007

Critics: perhaps not so fearful

Other bloggers are commenting on the meta-issues raised in this piece. It's vitally important for those in the wine industry -- or all consumers of wine media, really -- to remember that any wine writer or critic's audience is the reader, not the producer.

2 comments:

Ken Sternberg said...

The issues and conflicts raised by you and those you link here are important ones that go to the heart of why consumers should trust or believe anything written by wine writers or bloggers. Things may be heading toward establishing a set of "voluntary" but widely accepted, de facto standards that such writers agree to follow. Just how such standards would be reached is a process needing lots of discussion.

From my own viewpoint, if anyone who writes about wine or even just drinks it starts from the premise that 75 to 80 percent of all wine available at any price point is garbage or industrial quality dreck, that would be an improvement.

thor iverson said...

de facto standards

I get twitchy at things like that, but then again I've been told that being ornery and contrary is not inherently virtuous... ;-)

Mostly, I wish that people would be clear that they have biases, and what those biases are. That, and disclose their methodology, where relevant. Instead, far too many writers pretend that they don't have biases, hide the way they work, and reflexively criticize anyone who doesn't work the way they do. Believing one is naturally more objective than others leads to believing one is naturally superior, and after that line is crossed, a critic is unreachable by logic or common sense. We've all seen it happen.

Blogging is going to be more and more important, just like it is in most other fields of opinion-mongering these days. We've somewhat passed through the era of the static forum, for reasons that aren't entirely clear to me, and we're getting a lot of voices these days...though how anyone can keep track of them all is beyond me. (In terms of fora, eBob is still quite successful, but the cracks in the system are already quite obvious there...the insensible bannings, the increasing factionalization, the demonstrably dubious claims to openness, the fact that several of the paid critics nearly always demean and deride rather than debate, etc.) And if blogging is going to be important, I do agree that the most important bloggers should do their best to adopt the best of the ethical standards that journalist-critics are supposed to have. It will only increase their utility.

But more importantly, I want to see them adopt the best ethics not only of the mainstream media, but also of the new media. And to me, the necessity of negativity is absolutely essential to the new media. People often harp about "balance" when what they actually mean is "restraint." Balance comes from the full range of opinions, and unless someone is going to be a dry reciter of facts, there's got to be negativity to contextualize the positivity.

It would be great if bloggers were a little more organized as a counter-weight to the major critical voices, but I think we're too anarchic a bunch for that.

This has turned into something that should probably be on the front page. Later, maybe.

if anyone who writes about wine or even just drinks it starts from the premise that 75 to 80 percent of all wine available at any price point is garbage or industrial quality dreck, that would be an improvement

Why stop there? One must never forget Sturgeon's Law.