Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Real World Intrudes on the Rodney Strong Affair

As of today, the Rodney Strong Affair was still going strong with comments and twitters barely trailing off - despite this being a holiday weekend. Tim, one of the bloggers who reviewed the wine, posted a summary today.

I've been reading through all the posts and comments trying to formulate some sort of coherent opinion, but it's hard to keep track of exactly what the issues are - they seem to change with every post.

The big question seems to be 'were breached b/c the bloggers accepted samples in exchange for writing about the wine during a certain time period'? This remains the issue, whether the program was conceived by the Rodney Strong winery (as originally reported by both Tom Wark: Fermentation and Steve Heimoff) or Jeff at Good Grape (as was actually the case.)

My thoughts: Sure, yes, this breaches the journalistic code of independence that we (would like to) believe old guard media adheres to. But when it’s done so transparently, it just doesn’t feel like a breach of trust. I’ve been told exactly what’s going on and I can choose to believe what follows – or not. It’s a level of disclosure you never see in mainstream media.

Beyond this, the issues are plentiful: The original objectors to the program didn't get their facts straight and wouldn't just admit it. The program was an indicator that bloggers are taken as seriously as traditional media. The program was an indicator that bloggers were more easily manipulated than traditional press. The ethical concerns assume that bloggers want to play alongside traditional media. The original objectors are being hypocritical in their ethical objections. And on and on.

And as I read, I was wondering what the real world thought about this debate. Did they realize it as going on, or is it only bloggers that read the blogs? And if they were reading, what did they think of all this?

Finally, at some point late today, one lone voice from the real world emerged and sure enough, watching this was making him sad.

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