At the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conferences – both the North American and European versions – the discussion of beer blogging versus beer writing seems to arise almost every year.
Are beer bloggers less professional than paid beer journalists? Do they specifically want to be, reveling in their lack of editorial restrictions? Should breweries and beer-centric regions treat them differently?
Our view has always been that beer blogging is just one medium for writing about beer, so that beer bloggers are beer writers but not all beer writers use the blog form.
Having said that, the details are important:
- Beer bloggers generally don’t get paid for their writing, which means they might not have as much time to do research for an article
- Beer bloggers generally don’t have an editor, which means it is on them to produce a quality product in terms of grammar and spelling
- Beer bloggers have few restrictions on what they choose to write about, which means it is up to them to come up with content interesting to their readers
- Beer bloggers have few restrictions on taking free product or complimentary event tickets, other than revealing this, which means they need to set their own standards for when and what they publish when they receive things for free
- Beer bloggers do not have the backing of a periodical to open doors for them, which means it is their responsibility to hustle for access, quotes, and inside information
Good beer bloggers blur the lines with all of the above, in the best cases producing articles and photos that rival that of any print journalist. The European Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference this past August in Belgium produced an amazing number of these types of articles. For just one example, it is well worth reading this piece by Breandán Kearney on his blog Belgian Smaak:
Frankly, with its depth of reporting, quotes from key industry figures, and insightful analysis one might expect to read this piece in the New York Times rather than in one beer enthusiast’s blog. But those attending the annual Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference see this type of reporting and meet this type of beer blogger all the time.