Primarily a blogger here on SGdotIE, I was, among other things, a wine writer for 13 months for a national paper until my publication went bust in February (the Sunday Tribune). But before my little mini-rant begins, let me state I’m not angling for another writing position, at least not right now (house move, third kid on the way, too busy to drink wine most of the time, let alone write about it).
Anyway back to my point, The Sunday Tribune was great for a number of reasons (they did break the TD expenses debacle amongst other things).
My wine column was somewhat limited in terms of words. On one hand there was “the squeeze” which provoked Tim Atkin to leave some of his publications in the UK. I never really felt that pressure although the what I did feel was that of George Bernard Shaw’s “I was going to write you a short letter but I didn’t have the time so I wrote a long letter instead” and that the French and other old world winemakers need to sort their shots out when it comes to good product photos (never mind better websites).
Ultimately, I had full freedom to write about whatever I wanted. There was a clear distinction between church and state (journalism versus advertising revenue). There was never any pressure to give coverage to supermarkets or the borg, behemoth convenience store franchises (those who would account for the bulk of FMCG adverts).
With freedom comes responsibility.
My approach was to give the reader something more than “chocolate, red berries and cloves” but in addition to every hook or side story, to provide some balance. A balance between wine that is widely available (whether you interpret that as available in supermarkets/franchises or next day nationwide delivery by an online specialist).
And here’s my main point, which I admit, have taken a while to get to.
Since my paper’s demise, the Independent has dropped the wine columns from both Saturday and Sunday editions. There may be editorial board meetings which have decided that “dem wine columns don’t make us mo’ money”. To that, I’d proffer that, as an island, we punch well above our weight – we’ve got 4 (that I know of) Masters of Wine – there are a mere 300 worldwide.
If wine is too middle class for ya and you can see Russia from your house, there’s also a massive movement (missed it?) towards independent craft brewing (never mind the whisky revolution). But hey, maybe you’re too busy making mo’ money publishing yesterday’s news today.