Daily Archives: May 12, 2014

Fifteen months ago, Jon Campbell’s Unemployed Reporter beer went viral. Journalists loved the bottle label, which said the beer’s ingredients “included chocolate and roasted barley malts that are as dark and bitter as the future of American journalism, and a high alcohol content designed to numb the pain of a slow, inexorable march toward obsolescence.”

Campbell’s home brew had “not yet expanded beyond the five-gallon bucket in my closet,” but he told me in February of 2013 that he was “exploring” the possibility of a limited edition brew.
So what happened to Unemployed Reporter beer? I wondered.

“I’m still brewing the beer for myself and friends when I find the time – I have a few bottles in my closet right now – but still working with only a five gallon bucket,” Campbell writes in an email.

He adds that he doesn’t have plans to get it on liquor store shelves.

My inquiry, he says, “is a good chance to clear up some pretty funny miscommunications surrounding all of this. …Unemployed Reporter Porter was never anything more than a label and sub-par homebrew created to amuse myself and a few friends.”

The whole thing began when I emailed some photos of my satirical label to a former colleague. I thought she’d get a laugh out of the dark humor. (In fact, I created the label, strictly for my own amusement, almost a year before I showed it even to her.) Before I knew what was happening, she’d sent it to my former colleagues at the Hartford Advocate, who posted a short blurb that got picked up elsewhere.

After it got some attention, in an act of pure opportunism, I did briefly entertain the idea of getting an established brewery to produce it – and when I say briefly, I mean I sent out two emails – but that went nowhere. That I thought such a thing might be possible just demonstrates how pitifully little I know about the brewing business.

Many of the stories about Unemployed Reporter brew reported that Campbell had been laid off from the Hartford Advocate.

“In reality, I wasn’t let go from the Advocate,” he says. “I relocated to California, quite voluntarily. We parted on good terms and I really enjoyed my time there. It’s a great group of people. But in true internet fashion, the story mutated as it was reposted. Pretty soon I had been ‘laid off,’ ‘fired,’ ‘jilted,’ and had moved on to a new career, none of which was true.”

The story grew more dramatic as it was retold, he says.

I would have corrected the record but appropriately, the label started to go viral just as I was laid out with the flu. In my sickly state, I wasn’t really up for responding to the emails I was getting which, bafflingly, came from publications as far afield as El Salvador, New Zealand, Spain and Germany. And most of the blogs who wrote about the beer never reached out anyway, so I didn’t have the chance. All in all, it was a lesson in the internet telephone game and the media echo chamber.

Jon Campbell

Jon Campbell

It was all a little funny to watch. The sentiments I expressed seemed to strike a chord with some in the media business, and I got a few emails from people who had strong reactions, positive and negative. But it also made me a little nervous. At the time, I had recently applied to graduate school and was waiting on the acceptance decision.

When I saw my potential future professors tweeting about my cynical, expletive laden creation, I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad. But it seemed like they all got the joke. And I’m glad people found it funny. I met a number of people in graduate school, professors and students alike, who had seen the beer before they met me, which was pretty amazing. I can only hope some of my actual journalism gets so much attention someday.

The 31-year-old journalist graduates in a few weeks and begins a fellowship program at the Village Voice in July.

* February 2013: Lots of buzz for Unemployed Reporter beer (


* For $40K, Jonah Peretti dispells myth: “Quality is all that matters” (
* * BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg is stepping down (


Not Photoshopped: I called the Anchorage Daily News and they confirmed that this post-it ad appeared in Sunday’s paper. “Someone wasn’t thinking,” TBF Services owner Carl Bramante told me. “I booked that ad a year ago.” He learned of its placement next to the photo of an amputee when he started getting text messages from friends on Sunday morning. Bramante hasn’t heard from the paper about it. (h/t Tom Hewitt)

* Triathlete lost her leg as the result of a 2006 bike-car collision (

Letter to Romenesko
From BARNEY McCOY, journalism professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln:

The FAA’s restrictions over the commercial use of drones in this country left me and Matt Waite, Drone Lab founder in UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, discussing the earliest media mentions of drones.

A drone from a 1965 "Man from U.N.C.L.E." episode

A drone from a 1965 “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” episode

Then I recalled a drone memory I had from a popular fictional TV show from the 1960’s.

After some digging I found what I was looking for. It was in a February, 1965 “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” episode that I edited to share with students.

Do your readers know of other older fictional mentions/depictions of drones in popular TV or print publications?

Please post in comments or send me an email.

* A drone was used in a 1965 “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” episode (

* “My gayness made me very combative, assertive and an outsider,” says Glenn Greenwald. “I’m always thankful for that.” (
carter* Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter (left), who turns 65 in July, “seems to be taking valedictory bows everywhere,” writes Michael Wolff. Will he retire soon? (
* Science writer Nicholas Wade: “I’ve seen several articles on the web suggesting that I was pursuing some agenda of my own at the New York Times. This is completely untrue.” (
* Jay Rosen: “He said/she said” increasingly won’t cut it for the New York Times and other publications that are asking readers to pay more to fund their newsgathering. (
* Even columnists need to do some reporting. “When was the last time Jonathan Capehart, Maureen Dowd or Chris Matthews did any research?” (
* The best longform journalism sites. (
* At the New York Times, 69% of bylines go to male reporters. (
* Sportswriters react to the Cleveland Browns picking Johnny Manziel. (
* American Prospect’s Gabriel Arana: The racial and ethnic diversity is abysmal at most of publications I regularly read. (
* Sally Quinn missed her 50th reunion at Smith College because “my husband [Ben Bradlee], who now has dementia, had taken a turn for the worse, and I couldn’t go.” (
* Roberto Quinones is named UNITY executive director. (
* In JOBS: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette seeks a creative front-end web developer. (Romenesko Jobs)
* A jury awards $650,000 to a lobbyist who claims he was libeled by the Myrtle Beach Sun. (
* Chico News & Review editor: I didn’t censor my columnist; I edited him. (
* ESPN’s Rob King is called the 83rd most creative person in business. (
* There are more American women on Pinterest than on Twitter. (
* Avondale Estates, Georgia, recently hired a communications manager, but she said she’s not allowed to speak to the media. (