The following is an email I received from Howard Goldberg, a well-known wine writer who I read most often in the New York Times in his "Long Island Vines" column. As you will see, he offered it up for publication here on LENNDEVOURS, so that is what I'm doing. Below his email is my response as well.
Dear Mr. Thompson,
Your Web entry of April 25, which recently came to my attention, suggests a failure to respect such elementary principles of professional journalism as fairness and accuracy.
The question in the title, “LI Wineries Shutting Out Howard Goldberg?”, is never precisely answered in the body of innuendo that follows it. There is an odor of McCarthyism in such an approach.
If it had occurred to you phone or e-mail me to ask questions about any “shutting out,” I could have told you that, to my knowledge, such a condition does not exist and never has. (I am easily reachable. Any winemaker on Long Island could have provided my whereabouts.)
I do not object to criticism, but I do not admire a careless editorial mentality that fails to question others’ assertions closely.
For example, your contributor JaredS, writes about me: “every 5th or 6th column, he seems to balance all the cheerleading with one entire scathing column ripping someone to shreds. And I don't think I've ever even come close to agreeing that any of his scathing reviews were even close to being justified.”
Had JaredS and you bothered to check my New York Times bylines, available sequentially in Google, in any serial run starting at any date and ending at any date you would have been unable to find “scathing” material “ripping someone to shreds” in “every 5th or 6th column.” Demonstrably, no such prevailing pattern exists, except in JaredS's imagination.
Further, Robin Meredith writes: “I have first hand knowledge of at least one winery that refused to send samples to HG despite repeated requests on his part, so I can confirm that statement.”
I recommend that you invite Mr. Meredith to publicly identify that winery on your Web site and insist that he do so. You will find that he cannot, because such a winery does not exist. In all the time that Long Island Vines has been published, not one producer has ever explicitly refused to provide samples, though from time to time there has been seeming evidence of a reluctance to do so.
If you want to earn and retain your readers’ trust, Mr. Thompson, you might consider honoring the basics.
(This letter is, of course, intended for possible publication on Lenndevours.)
Howard G. Goldberg
I will absolutely post your email, in its entirety, on my blog. In fact, I'll probably do so today.
A few things I'd like to say in response to it however (which I will also include in my post):
- As I'm sure you're aware, blogs are a completely different animal from traditional print journalism. With that in mind, I don't think that I need to answer the question in the post's title. It was meant as a question for my readers--which include many of the winemakers and winery owners in New York State.
- Also in that vein is the fact that, other than in the instance of content spam, I would never assert any sort of editorial control over comments made by readers. To do so would not be in the spirit of blogging, community and transparency.
- I have also emailed you numerous occasions in the three-plus years I've been covering Long Island wines both on my blog and in several print outlets. Your responses have ranged from non-existent to dismissive.
I think that if you spent some time on my blog, you'd quickly see that my readers trust me much more than they do most print journalists. Partially, that is just the nature of blogs. I have the advantage of immediate feedback and discussion via the comment mechanism that you (and other print journalists) don't have. I also have their trust because I'm bluntly honest in every word I write, which is the most basic of all journalistic principles in my mind.
I won't speak for Jared or Robin -- as it is not my place -- but something tells me that they will comment when I post your email. Perhaps you can respond to them directly in the same forum.
Thanks again for your email. I'm always open to criticism of my blog, but in this instance, I think perhaps you're treating it as if it were a traditional print vehicle, which it is not.