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May 29, 2007

Comments

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I'm really surprised to see such a defensive tone by an internationally acclaimed journalist over a local blog post and the comments that followed. Perhaps Mr. Goldberg is unaware, as Lenn has pointed out, of the difference between print and blog? But then again, that sort of disconnect is precisely the point of my previous comment and I think this simply defends my point - I don't think Mr. Goldberg is consistent or truly in touch with the local wine community. Or current trends in print and online media, for that matter.

To be fair, though, he may be correct that I wouldn't find the sort of "scathing" comments in his column currently. That's because I pretty much gave up reading the column over a year ago after one "too many" of these seemingly incoherent reviews. But at the same time, being that I am not a journalist, I didn't realize that, in order to make my comment, I was required to read all of his columns, sequentially, to be sure that my figure of "every 5 or 6 columns" was correct.

I still do, and always will, have a ton of respect for Mr. Goldberg and his overall journalistic history - not to mention what he's done (positively) for local wines. I still very much welcome the months where I turn the page in Decanter to find his US coverage in that wonderful periodical. However, the reply above saddens me in that a professional journalist feels the need to get defensive and go on the attack of a blogger and those who comment.

There is a classic causal fallacy in Mr. Goldberg's argument. My refusal to publicly identify the winery in question in no way proves that winery does not exist. It simply proves that professional courtesy and friendship are more important to me than settling a dispute on a blog.

I know next to nothing about the controversy surrounding Mr. Goldberg and the Long Island wine community, but his response resembles that of other journalists who have been challenged by the "alternative" media. If one looks back, the whole Dan Rather flap in 2004 was more about Rather refusing to accept the fact that a blogger found a major discrepency in his report concerning President Bush's guard service. Whether or not the report had any underlying merit, the fact remains that the blogger revealed a key document to be fabricated. Dan Rather eventually "retired" after refusing to own up to this important mistake.

What I learned from that story had nothing to do with the political elements. I was amazed at how much contempt a journalist could have for someone with the means to express his or her opinion in a forum as pervasive as the internet. "Who is this guy who runs Lenndevours? Is he just some idiot sitting in his pajamas in his living room taking pot shots at the true experts? I work at a real newspaper! How dare he!!!" Etc.

Of course, Mr. Goldberg tries to denounce Lenn's right to ask questions in his own forum by using his holier-than-thou "journalistic standards." This is a blog, and one does not commit libel by simply sharing one's thoughts or impressions. Mr. Goldberg would have done himself a better service by addressing the general concern and not attacking posters who may or may not have had all their facts together. He appears much to snide and defensive.

I find it interesting that Mr. Goldberg's objections appear to be more to responses to Lenn's entry than to the entry itself.

I sure as hell don't want to get embroiled in this, but I have noticed that Mr. Goldberg seems to love the limelight and, at a seminar for example, will ask a 5-minute question that exalts his own knowledge and precludes a reply from the person he's questioned.

In addition, I too get tired of the "I am a real journalist" pose. As if bloggers were incapable of discerning BS from reality or friendship from honesty. Most bloggers do a conscientious job of letting us know where their preferences and prejudices lie, which is not so often the case among "real" journalists in any medium. In this light bloggers are doing a very good job of getting and sharing credible information with their community of winelovers or whatever else the topic.

I couldn't speak knowledgeably to the issues raised by Lenn or Howard. That said, I can say this: I've been reading Howard for nearly 20 years. This man understands not only the wine business and wine but also journalism in a way I'd like to one day...but really don't expect to. I simply don't have that much time left on this earth to accumulate that much knowledge.

Of the, literally, hundreds of people who write about wine in America, Howard ranks in the top 20 for integrity and ability. It's not a good idea to question him on either of these counts. That will just lead to disappointment.

That said, Howard is not a blogger. I'm not sure if he's familiar with the fast action and fast prose that account for this medium. It wouldn't surprise me though if he is familiar with it however. But even so, I don't think this is an issue of old media vs. new.

Tom, I think there is something to be said for the old vs. new media theme. It's been a story that's been going on for many years now. It has reared up in all kinds of situations, from the huge examples we all know about to small ones like these.

I wasn't questioning Mr. Goldberg's integrity in his field. I was simply appalled at how heavily he came down on Lenn with an apparaent air of superiority. Goldberg is a well-regarded wine writer, Lenn is a great blogger. I just think if Goldberg wanted to approach what Lenn had written, he should have done so in a congenial way or simply ignored the situation altogether. Lenn is obviously a reasonable guy who would have regarded Goldberg's inquires with respect. By bashing the blog medium and then overreacting to whatever was typed in comments, Goldberg did not do himself justice. It's a shame, because someone of Goldberg's reputation could have provided meaningful feedback from which I'm sure we call could have benefitted.

I'm always glad to see a post on this blog result in a discussion, but I think we're a little off track on this one (though it is probably my fault).

I'm not 100% sure that this is an old vs. new issue either, though I think many bloggers like to make that argument any time that someone criticizes their blog in any way. I've been guilty of this defense mechanism myself I think.

Mr. Goldberg deserves the respect of every person who reads this blog. Why? Well, I like to think that LENNDEVOURS helps get New York wineries "out there" to more people than they can reach on their own. I've been at this for three years and have probably only just now started to have a real impact, however. Mr. Goldberg has been an advocate for New York wines for MUCH longer and has no doubt had a much greater impact on the wine world. This is just one of many reasons why he deserves our respect and thanks.

My only real issue with his email is his comment about earning and retaining my readers' trust. I think he was way off base in implying that I don't.

I also felt the need to say, for the record, that I will not assert any editorial control over comments (except in the instance of comment spam). LENNDEVOURS is an open forum for discussion and that's how it will remain.

Maybe he "gets" blogging, maybe he doesn't. He doesn't have to--he's one of those rare, lucky few who get to write about wine full time.

Well put, Lenn!

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