Last week I attended my first U.S. Wine Bloggers Conference. I was invited at the last minute to present, along with Meg Houston Maker, a sequel to the seminar that was most unpopular last year, in which we were supposed to tell bloggers how to write better, whether they want to or not.
The argument some bloggers made last year, and have made for several years, is that they don't want to write "better" according to standards established by print journalism. They want to post fresh, unfiltered thoughts, and they're not interested in learning how to sell articles to magazines or websites. This is a perfectly valid viewpoint for mommy bloggers, but put "wine" in front of "blogger" and the wine community, as well as the journalism community, gets upset.
I did the seminar, because if somebody wants to write better -- I always do -- then discussion of reporting and writing technique with one's peers is the best avenue possible. And there was a wide range of bloggers with different aspirations at the WBC. There was also an army of wine PR people hoping to get bloggers to write about their brands, hopefully tweeting, "Wow, this Cab Franc is delish! #fruity!"
Here's what pisses people off about the Wine Bloggers Conference: It isn't what the people who like to complain about it want it to be.
|Mainstream wine critics want to feast on the shattered corpse of the WBC|
PR people want the WBC to be about giving their brands free publicity. They get more bang for their buck than wine critics, mainly because PR people hang out, spend some bucks and pour some wine. They get a torrent of near-incomprehensible tweets praising their products. But I have been hearing for years, later, from PR people that, "those bloggers aren't serious."
What neither wine critics, journalists, fuddy-duddies like Audrey Cooper, and many (not all) PR people understand is that the Wine Bloggers Conference isn't, for a majority of its attendees, about the seminars.
It's summer camp. For grownups. With wine. It's lurching down the hallways of the Radisson at 1 a.m. listening for loud voices behind doors to find the next party.
More than that, it's meeting friends who also love wine and love to talk about it. It's a reunion and a beginning. It's like Comic Con or a Star Trek fan convention or the Juggalo meetup or any gathering of people who share a hobby.
|The light of wine blogging shined on the Finger Lakes|
Yeah, well, the voters of Kansas don't vote the way I want them to vote either. Do they care what I think? Do I have the standing to criticize them?
I did the seminar, because some wine bloggers want to talk about the craft of writing. But my seminar was an ancillary attraction. The bloggers who were happy I was there -- and I was gratified to meet several -- were happy I was at parties with them. At tables tasting wine with them. Standing in the lunch queue with them. It's nice that I was there to impart some "wisdom" from the podium, but they were there for the community of the event, and were happy I was a part of it.
And so am I. #wbc15, signing out.