I decided not to approach the subject head on as it is difficult to judge or calibrate what actual influence any media has whether it be blogs, newspapers or television. For instance Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper has long claimed that it won the 1992 election for John Major and the Conservatives with its fierce criticism of Neil Kinnock, the Labour Party leader. Doubtless it was a factor but how important? Was it decisive?
Asking whether blogs have influence is like asking how long is a piece of string. Unless they have no readers at all we could assume that they may have an influence on their readers even if the content sends them to sleep. I suspect that Miss Vicky had in mind whether wine blogs could influence buying choices, change attitudes or even influence events rather than whether they might they be a cure for insomnia.
Rather than adopting this approach I chose to start the discussion by concentrating on what might make a blog influential and are there ways of building a readership as well as asking whether blogging is different from journalism.
We agreed that having something interesting to say was the first essential. 'Say' here includes photos and videos as well as words. Posting regularly is also very important. The time span is less important than the regularity – once a day, once a week, etc., but in a regular pattern. Irregular postings makes it difficult to build a regular readership. Social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. can be very useful to alert people to new posts and build readership. Although having a high readership isn't everything – it is obvious that a blog that has several hundred daily visits is very likely to have more influence than one that is read by a doting aunt and her dog.
The principles or the reasons for a blog being successful or not are no different from those that make traditional media successful; there isn't a distinction between bloggers and journalists only the medium is different. On reflection it makes more sense to substitute the broader term writers (or communicators, to include photographers and journalists) for journalists.
We also discussed whether wine producers' blogs were the best way of getting a message over or whether there were other social media options like Facebook that provided better ways of promoting an estate. Wine producers' blogs can be very samey if they stick to describing the annual cycle.