A Facebook site called “Save the Wine Column” has now over 700 industry and non-industry members and is growing daily.
Supporters have flooded to the page that was constructed last week by wine journalist Rebecca Gibb, after news that Tim Atkin’s weekly Observer wine column is to be significantly reduced.
His column has been cut from from 900 words to just two wine recommendations with tasting notes of 40 words each.
Although Atkin will still appear in the Observer Food Monthly, he told Harpers: “It’s sad that the Observer have made this decision and especially for all the readers who have supported me and read the weekly column over the past 17 years.”
Commenting on the site, Atkin MW, who has been writing the column in the Observer since 1993, said: “I’m biased, but I don’t think newspaper wine columns are dead, or on the way out just yet. There’s a proven demand for good copy with useful recommendations. There are still columns on the FT, [Financial Times] Telegraph, Indie [Independent] and Times after all.”
It’s not the first column to have been recently slashed, in March 2009, Joanna Simon’s column was taken in-house at the Sunday Times and Richard Ehrlich’s wine column for the Independent on Sunday was cut.
On the site, Gibb said: “The loss of wine columns is a worldwide trend as seen by the number of international members getting involved from France to Canada, the US and New Zealand.”
Due to the page’s growing membership, it also points to Facebook’s increasing in popularity as a social networking medium throughout the wine industry.
Dear friends, the wine column is alive and well with wine bloggers. Yes, yes, you don’t get paid much right now, your audience is small, and you feel like you have no impact at all.
Has the Wine Bloggers’ Conference taught us nothing at all? Wineries get it, a growing number of Internet-savvy consumers are reading and trusting them. The ad dollars that originally went to print newspapers and subsequently into the paychecks of wine writers have been consistently (if slowly) moving toward wine blogs. Ad networks set up by online wine publishers such as Palate Press show a technique that bridges the old print world and the online world, one that advertisers can relate to and they reasonably understand. Friends, the transformation is fully underway.
Even traditional curmudgeons such as Steve Heimoff benefit from the growing wine blog trend, even as he disparages it. Several well known wine writers have at least explored, if not fully embraced, moving their wine writing to blogs. It’s our belief that, once the ad dollars show up in sufficient numbers (i.e. the tipping point), wine writing will move online with such speed that people will no longer bemoan the passing of print wine columns.