In what just might prove to be the final nail in The Wine Advocate’s coffin before it’s completely packed up and shipped to Singapore, the publication is suing former lead contributor and at one time apparent heir apparent Antonio Galloni.
At first, Galloni’s departure from TWA after its sale to a group of Asian investors appeared amicable. TWA contributors had always been hired as independent contractors and with that status seemingly bound to change with the sale, Galloni decided it was time to venture out on his own, positioning himself as yet another in a line of independent online critics and taste makers.
(Now, why you’d leave a position where you’re reportedly paid $300,000 a year plus expenses to travel around the world and taste wine is beyond me.)
After Galloni failed to submit his Sonoma report that he was paid to write for the magazine, TWA decided to sue its former contributor for fraud and the deliberate withholding of tasting notes. As reported by Dr. Vino on his blog last week, TWA is alleging that Galloni had a plan to strike out on his own for a while and he was traveling the world on their dime doing research and tasting for his own proprietary site.
Galloni’s claim is that he wasn’t able to do the Sonoma report justice in the time that he had to write it and that his subsequent departure from the magazine was unrelated. Of course, his decision to release his report on his own site and oh-so-generously offer the report for free to TWA subscribers definitely casts some doubt on that assertion.
An ethical journalist would have turned over all work that was produced while under the contract or employ of a publication when he severs ties with that organization. If he’s not happy with what he has written, then just turn over the notes and drafts and let that be an editor’s problem.
It has been interesting to see the fragmenting of the wine writing establishment over the last few years. It was bound to happen as the early luminaries like Parker retire and the middle generation, the generation that cut its teeth in print but now find themselves in an online world, figure out how to position themselves.
As I wrote earlier, Galloni seems to be the most savvy of the bunch so far, so it’s unfortunate that his less than ethical behavior following his departure from TWA has cost him quite a bit of good will.
Nevertheless, it’s always fun to see a couple of self-important one percenters bleed each other of money, so that’s something.