The first blogger that I heard talking about ethics in wine blogging was David Pelletier ( a.k.a as Le Sommelier Fou). In his blog, David had a very serious editorial stance where he discussed his tasting methodology and sample policy. Honesty and transparency were the trademarks of David. Out of affection, I used to call him, the original wine blogger. Sadly, Le Sommelier Fou passed away in October 2016. My only regret was that I did not spend more time with him discussing this issue. Another blogger with a clear editorial stance is Julien Marchand. In his approach ( short and sweet), Julien defines the purpose of his blog and sets the tone for his posts: If I am interested, I talk about it.
What do these two bloggers have in common?. Honesty and transparency with no impression of a hidden agenda. At the latest Wine Bloggers Conference, Fred Swan discussed those two important points in what I call the principle of integrity. Similar to journalists, bloggers are on the public eye and must demonstrate an unbiased opinion. Fred Swan could not stress enough that you are brand and you set an expectation. A reputation is hard to build and can disappear in the blink of an eye.
When you declare that the wine bottles for your post were samples, you are being transparent. Same thing apply for the subject of press trips. It is a must to say, that you were invited by a organization or producer. All this above to avoid given the impression that you were bought off.
When you become a wine blogger, you are your own product ambassador and with that comes a fair share of responsibilities This is the gist that I got from the seminar of Fred Swan at the Wine Bloggers Conference. We have a duty to our readers to inform in the most transparent way as possible and we cannot allow ourselves to break that bond.
Beyond the element of full disclosure, comes the principle of accuracy. This point also got my attention at the Fred Swan seminar. When researching a post, it is important to use multiple sources. It is all about balance. For instance, a few years back,when I started writing about wine, one of my editors told me to talk about 3-4 producers when profiling a wine region. It is all about being impartial. It is important not to project the image of favoritism. By simply following this steps you will become an authority in your field.
The last importance point of the seminar was the principle of kindness. Lets not forget good manners and be polite even when encounter something that we don’t like. For example, when we get invited to somebody house for dinner and dont like something about the food, we just dont trash the host. It goes the same way, when we are writing about wine. Be polite, because It is always imperative to remember that the written word stay longer than the oral one. There are diplomatic ways to express your dislike about a specific wine. After all, wine is something very personal and what you might not like, somebody else can find it delicious.
In the very near future, I will be formulating a clear editorial stance. This is something that I do not wish to have any loose ends.
Thanks again for taking the time to read.