Journalist Cigarette Cards

In 2018, my partner Megan and I created a series of collector cards to raise funds for a local journalism organization. This is the archived text from our crowdfunding campaign.


A fundraiser for the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists

In the late 1890s, it was common for tobacco companies to include small collector cards in cigarette packs. One such series featured “American Editors,” with dozens of cards celebrating the nation’s journalism bosses with ornate portraits. In 2017, my partner Megan and I felt it was time for a new series, this time honoring the writers, reporters and editors that exemplify the best of journalism today.

old cig cards

Paying homage to the style of the original cards, we designed a limited series that raised more than $1,300 for San Diego SPJ. The money covered the prizes for its annual awards and freed up funds for other programming.

We do have a few sets left. Email us at, and we can arrange to send you some if you donate to a local journalism cause.

About the Journalists

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. His essays, criticism, journalism, and comic books are changing the national dialogue around race and politics. Our card highlights his must-read 2014 cover story, “The Case for Reparations.”

Special thanks to Eduardo Montes-Bradley for allowing us to use his photo.

Melissa del Bosque is a reporter for the Texas Observer. At a time when public discourse over immigration is driven by D.C. and cable news, Melissa’s  boots-on-the-ground  investigative reporting reveals the grim reality of violence and corruption accompanying the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border. For the card, we’re highlighting her 2015 cover story with Patrick  Michels, “Homeland Insecurity.” 

Original photo by Lisa Kaselak.

Shane Bauer is a senior reporter for Mother Jones. In 2016, Shane distinguished himself as a journalist with the uncommon nerve and commitment to go undercover at great personal risk. For “My Four Months As a Prison Guard,” which is featured on the card, Bauer accepted a job at a Corrections Corporation of America private prison in Louisiana, witnessing firsthand the chaos, incompetence, and carelessness only barely touched upon in public records. Later in the year, he followed that with his investigation, “I Went Undercover With a Border Militia. Here’s What I Saw.

Original photo by Mia Nakano.

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a correspondent for the New York Times Magazine, and before that she was a staff writer for ProPublica. Her work focuses on civil rights, in particular segregation and discrimination in contemporary America, combining investigative reporting with deeply personal narrative. For the card, we are highlighting her powerful longform report, “Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City.” 

Molly Crabapple is a contributing editor for Vice. Marrying hard-hitting reporting with provocative illustration, Crabapple has captured the unphotographable at Guantanamo Bay, confronted Donald Trump on labor exploitation in Dubai, and witnessed the special “Human Trafficking Intervention Courts” for sex workers in New York. For the card, we are highlighting her coverage of the Syrian war and refugee crisis.

Photo by Michelle Sweatt / PEN American Center
Gustavo Arellano was* editor of OC Weekly. And investigative reporter. And food critic. And syndicated “¡Ask a Mexican!” columnist.  Whether it’s exposing Nazis or tracking the origin of the California burrito, Gustavo demonstrates a commitment to justice, truth, and community that is only strengthened by his mischievous sense of humor. For the card, we are highlighting the August 2, 2012 issue, “Anaheim Calling: Dispatches from the Angriest City on Earth,” published amidst boiling-point protests over police shootings. 

* At the time the cards came out, he was OC Weekly’s editor, but left soon after rather than lay off staff.