What my wine blog is teaching me about digital media: Part 1 – Localism

I have a wine blog.

Yes, in addition to being a public media nerd, I’m also a wine nerd. I go to at least a couple of tastings a week, I hang out with sommeliers, I sniff, I swirl, the whole bit.

Last year, under pressure from – and with the encouragement of – a small group of wine enthusiast friends, I started the blog.

It was called My Wine Blog. (Scribbles & Scruples is the only clever blog name I will ever dream up.)

I resisted the idea for a long time. There are well over a thousand wine blogs already – I figured my voice would just be drowned out. But then I thought, who cares if nobody reads it – this is my hobby, not my job! I’ll do it for fun!

I’ve played around with it, done some social media with it … and it has been fun.

Wine blogging in Napa, August 2016

Considering Going Local

Then one day, it hit me. There’s no local wine blog in my adopted hometown of Orlando – no digital place to go for news about Orlando’s wine scene. (If you just laughed at the idea of a wine scene in Orlando, read this!)

Maybe, I thought, my blog should go local.

I’m always preaching the value of localism to my clients at public media organizations around the country. Why did it never occur to me to take my own advice?

I mulled the idea over for awhile … but I found I was reluctant. One day, I was talking with a fellow public-media-ite, and I realized why.

Where’s the Incentive?

We were discussing the brave, not-so-new-anymore world of digital media and podcasting. I was bellyaching, as I often do, about my concern that the allure and fear of digital is tempting some news organizations to steal resources from their local journalism efforts.

I argued passionately that it was technically no more difficult to produce a podcast about City Hall than about, say, Congress. But my colleague rightly pointed out that the potential audience for the City Hall podcast is miniscule in comparison to the potential audience for the Congressional one. Where’s the incentive?

Suddenly, I realized why I was hesitant to localize My Wine Blog.

Even though I knew a local blog would be more focused and unique; I knew it would fill a niche that nobody else was filling; I knew it had the potential to get traction … I still didn’t want trade that potentially huge audience for a relatively small one.

And this is my hobby blog. It doesn’t earn me a cent!

When there are financial stakes involved, choosing to go local in the digital space must be even harder.

And yet, I would argue, the stakes for local news are higher in a different way too. Journalism that holds local leaders to account and shines a light on local and regional problems is much more important than a local wine blog.

Orlando Wine Blog

And so, last week, I officially relaunched My Wine Blog as Orlando Wine Blog. I changed the corresponding Twitter handle too.

My post about the relaunch explains my decision to my readers and makes the case for why they should stick around, even if they’re not from here.

The new blog is a work in progress. I haven’t changed the URL yet, for one thing. It’s a pain, and it costs money that I’d rather spend on wine.

I see this as a fairly low-stakes experiment, and I hope it proves me right. I hope I can someday point to it as proof to my professional clients that people will support local in the digital space, if given good content … and half a chance.



What my wine blog is teaching me about digital media: Part 1 – Localism

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