Brew Blog rankles trade publications, brewers and other journalists

Miller’s Brew Blog is drawing the ire from several competitors, including industry giant Anheuser-Busch. The blog, run by 37 year-old industry reporter James Arndorfer has gotten several scoops since the sites incarnation, even beating publicity firms from rival companies.

“Brew Blog is the latest and perhaps most unlikely front in Miller’s drive to rattle Anheuser. Mr. Arndorfer tracks the St. Louis company’s every move, from earnings reports to management changes. He relishes revealing details of its products before Anheuser does.

Though Mr. Arndorfer covers other brewers, he’s ‘fixated on A-B,’ says Harry Schuhmacher, editor of Beer Business Daily, an online newsletter. Mr. Arndorfer responds: ‘They’re the industry leader. And they’ve been making a lot of news.'”

And that’s fine if his blog wasn’t owned by a competing brewing company. There isn’t even a hint of propiety involved. Go easy on your own company and take shots at the competitor under the guise of “journalism.” Not exactly fair and balanced.

I’m willing to be if you asked Miller they would claim the Brew Blog is just that – a blog. Not a new media platform. But for anyone 35 and under, blog are mini-media companies. There are traditional media companies like the Wall Street Journal or The NY Times and new media like Daily Kos or Gawker Media. And though this may just seem like the rivalry between Miller and Bud upping the ante, the ramifications go much deeper.

Not so crazy about the blog is Mr. Schuhmacher, the editor and publisher of Beer Business Daily. Mr. Schuhmacher, who charges $440 a year for his publication, declines to say how many subscribers he has. “I tell Miller you’re subsidizing a free publication, and it hurts the trade press,” he says. “But they don’t care.”

Mr. Schuhmacher became angry when Miller bought ads to run alongside Google searches for the keywords “Harry Schuhmacher” and “Beer Business Daily” to drive visitors to Brew Blog. The brewer took the ads down after he complained.

Mr. Schuhmacher adds that he writes fewer positive pieces about Miller than he once did because he knows Brew Blog will always publish the same stories. On a recent evening, a Miller spokesman suggested he write about one of its newer brews, a lemonade-flavored wheat beer called Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

“I said, ‘You know what, give it to Brew Blog,'” Mr. Schuhmacher says.

And that’s the real problem when other journalistic endeavors just give up.

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