I think the problem is that in this modern era, for better or worse (I tend to think worse), the boundary between professional and amateur is getting extremely vague. The classic current example of this is published authors. Once upon a time an author being published was generally an indication that some level of, if you like, peer reviewing of the author’s work has been done by the publisher’s editors but now, in this age of self-publishing, that level of quality check is no longer guaranteed and self-published books can vary from the most appalling examples of wannabe authors self-publishing because no one else would dream of touching them to professional authors who want to take control of the entire publication process (and rewards). Much the same is happening with critics of anything from wine to books to films to art etc. and apart from a few who manage to achieve some level of fame the only way to distinguish is to look at their qualifications. However many people today, in particular the younger generations, tend to scorn such qualifications with a strong element of inverse snobbery (just look at the success of Naked Wines and their attitude to the wine ‘establishment’).
So anyone can start blogging/twittering/facebooking their wine criticisms and it becomes almost impossible to determine who is professional who is amateur, who knows what they are talking about and who doesn’t. The ones that seem to rise to the surface are not necessarily more knowledgeable, they are typically just more witty or endowed with more ‘street cred.’
In this sort of environment enforcing transparency is almost impossible. And, to be fair, this has been going on for years. If you go skiing and ask your instructor why they chose their particular skis they will happily tell you how wonderful said skis are but tend to be a little more reticent about the fact that the manufacturer gives them a free new set every year. Every industry has it’s ‘influencers’ and they already occupy a grey area that is only going to get greyer still.
We used to rely on editors to screen all the information put in front of us (books, newspapers, tv). It was difficult and expensive to self publish your views to the world so most views went through some kind of quality filter. That kind of filter is now almost completely gone. We must try and do the filtering ourselves. And that is difficult and is only going to get harder and we will regularly get it wrong and be sold a lemon.