I was recently at a supermarket press tasting, and one of the buyers – new to the game – commented that he was surprised how well we (the wine journos) all got along. ‘After all, you’re competitors,’ he noted.
I was pleased he made this observation. We do get along. But it hadn’t really occurred to me that we should behave any differently, and I don’t think of my fellow wine writers as competitors. We all (perhaps with one or two exceptions) co-exist really well, and attending tastings feels like mixing with your colleagues at work. As a freelancer, it’s nice to feel that you are part of a bigger community.
How is this cohesion maintained? It’s as if there are some unwritten rules for wine writers that we all strive to abide by, and which keeps the community together. They would be something like this:
- Be collegiate. Be nice to your fellow wine writers and behave as part of a team. When you go on press trips, join in – have a drink at the bar at the end of the day. Show interest in others. Greet fellow writers with a friendly smile, a kiss, a hug.
- No prima donnas allowed. I know we are each managing our own media brand, but we need to remember that in the grand scheme of things, none of us matter, so let’s keep our egos in check.
- Don’t lie. In your self-promotion, don’t exaggerate your readership figures or your webstats, or do silly things like buy twitter followers.
- As much as it is humanly possible, share in the joy of others’ success. Your turn will come.
- Don’t be a dick and behave competitively. Show other wine writers respect on social media and don’t be unnecessarily argumentative. Don’t have a thin skin if others rib you.
- Follow the basic rules of being a nice human: always think the best of others, be kind where you can, and forgive people quickly if they offend or hurt you.
- Be supportive and welcoming towards newcomers, and younger writers. We don’t want to be a closed club. We want to avoid cliques. We need new, young, talented writers to keep us on our toes!
- Don’t sell out, and don’t behave parasitically. If you wanted to get rich you should have gone into the financial world. Keep your integrity in the face of £££ or you will be letting us all down. And don’t keep trying to take money from wine producers by various schemes. They have a bad enough time with supermarkets and major retailers coming after them for cash (‘promotional support’). Don’t muddy the water for the rest of us.