However… at a time when the highest British courts are busily discussing phone tapping by newspapers, and publications like the Daily Mail think it’s right and proper to publish a photograph of Mick Jagger learning of the death of his girlfriend, I’m increasingly glad not to call myself a journalist. What precisely went through the minds of the editorial teams (that picture appeared in a lot of papers) when they decided to share that image with their readers? Precisely what kind of “public good” would its publication serve?
The complaints flow in both directions, however, as wineries and generic organisations increasingly compare the value and effectiveness of the editorial coverage they have received with the costs of the flights, hotel rooms, meals, bottles, time and trouble they have provided. The very idea of wine writers funding their own trips is, sadly, almost unthinkable – other than the ones writing for well-heeled US publishers – so whether they like it or not, most of them are in effect acting as unpaid promoters for their hosts.
Scour the newspaper columns and the magazines for coverage of major wine producing regions that don’t fund trips, and you’ll struggle to find them. But when countries like Turkey or Lebanon hand out airline tickets, hey presto, articles about them suddenly appear like daffodils in the Spring. And, quite naturally, far too many of these features tend to be unquestioningly positive, often reading like paid-for advertorials. I’m sure their authors have had a great time and enjoyed drinking some delicious wines. Whether they’ve been doing the kind of journalism they may have dreamed of in their youth is another matter. But I guess it’s a lot better than publishing pictures of freshly bereaved rock stars.