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At The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers

This afternoon I again had the honor of joining some of the best wine writers in the world for the beginning of a three day discussion of the craft of wine writing. This is my third year as a speaker and moderator at this event, which features some of the true luminaries of the wine world. This year I, and the other sixty-or-so folks who are attending, will have a chance to share a glass of wine and some thoughts with Eric Asimov of the New York symposium.jpgTimes, Elin McCoy of Bloomberg, Corie Brown (most recently) of the LA Times, author and educator, Karen MacNeil, Frank Prial (most recently) of the New York Times, author and critic Hugh Johnson, Matt and Ted Lee of Martha Stewart Living, Tyler Coleman of Dr. Vino, and more.

At this year's conference, I will participate (actually I just did about an hour ago) on a panel called "The Alumni Corner" where a number of us who had attended the conference in the past shared our experiences and some guidance of how to get the most out of the conference. Tomorrow I'll be co-leading a session on the process and value of blind tasting with Frank Prial, and on Thursday I'm moderating a panel on the future of wine writing, which may take on a bit of a sobering note in the face of so many layoffs in the journalism world.

I'll be posting a bit here and there from the conference, but if you really are interested in what's going on, I suggest you check out my Twitter feed, which is where I'll be posting little tidbits about the conference as it unfolds. Those of you who are serious Twitter users may appreciate the hash mark #spww where several of us are tweeting about the event.

Today I also managed to sneak a little microphone time to conduct an informal survey that someone has managed to do every year of the five years of the Symposium. It consists of two simple questions:

1. How many of you have heard of blogs?
2. How many of you have a blog?

Five years ago the answer to #1 was purportedly (I wasn't there) about 3 or 4 people out of the 60 writers in attendance. By last year everyone had heard of blogs. This year almost 50% of the people attending have blogs.

Someone suggested a follow up question which was "how many of you get paid to blog" and only about 8 people kept their hand up -- most of which were journalists that were asked to blog in addition to their existing writing.

Off to drink with the writers. More to come.

Comments (10)

Neil Smith wrote:
02.18.09 at 2:48 AM

Very interesting and well written. Time do change - don't they? By next year, they will ALL have their own blogs!

Dirty wrote:
02.18.09 at 6:28 AM

Another interesting question might be- "How many of you are forced / required to blog?"

It seems to be a trend in traditional media that writers that wrote once or twice a week, now have to write almost daily. Few seem happy or enthused to do it. (3-4x more work for the same pay).

02.19.09 at 2:49 AM

Will you also be discussing new and alternative remuneration methods for high class Wine Journalism?

TERI wrote:
02.19.09 at 7:10 AM

Brings back fun memories from last year. Wish I was there with you! Have a great time!

Alder wrote:
02.19.09 at 8:21 AM

Wait, there's such a thing as high class wine journalism !?! Why didn't anyone tell me this. I've been practicing the only kind I thought existed: lowbrow.

02.19.09 at 9:13 AM

I'm so sorry, I didn't want to offend anyone. In Germany one High Class Wine Print Magazine after the other is closing down. What will happen to those Journalists. I have come up with a remuneration idea. But it only works for local markets.

Alder wrote:
02.19.09 at 9:17 AM

Oh Patrick -- no offense taken in any way. I was just trying to be funny. Figuring out what wine writers can do to make money is indeed a pressing issue, and one that I will personally be addressing in my panel discussion called Wine Writing Next.

Dylan wrote:
02.19.09 at 11:55 AM

Sounds like you have a great crew of people around you, Alder. Looking forward to the updates you bring back from the conference.

Smith wrote:
02.20.09 at 8:40 AM

Looking forward to your feedback from the conference. Definitely keep us in the loop, great opportunity.

RM Gonzalez wrote:
02.22.09 at 1:42 PM

Many general publications have significantly reduced their food & wine coverage. I used to write for a newspaper that has simply eliminated all F&W coverage and specialized collaborators. Notes are now copied from press agencies with no relevance to the market and in other cases, any note on a restaurant opening is written by psychologists, show biz journalists, etc. therefore coverage has become significantly light. You should be speaking about convincing editors that food & wine journalists should be as serious as business or politics and that it requires specialized knowledge. This is more pertinent right now than speaking about remuneration. What sense does remuneration make when there are no workshops for the profession?

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