What Is Mother Jones?
In Hollywood, there's what's known as the "elevator pitch." You know, your 50-word summation of why you (or your movie) is a must have/see. Ours is 155 words, but still, good stuff:
Mother Jones is a nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative, political, and social justice reporting. We currently have two main "platforms": an award-winning bimonthly national magazine (circulation 240,000), and a website featuring new, original reporting 24-7. (In the past we've had a radio show and TV specials; theme parks are in the conceptual stage.) Why should you read or support us? Because "smart, fearless journalism" keeps people informed—"informed" being pretty much indispensable to a democracy that actually works. Because we've been ahead of the curve time and again. Because this is journalism not funded by or beholden to corporations. Because we bust bullshit and get results. Because we're expanding our investigative coverage while the rest of the media are contracting. Because you can count on us to take no prisoners, cleave to no dogma, and tell it like it is. Plus we're pretty damn fun. Read our FAQ for the deets.
- What's with the name?
- Who owns Mother Jones?
- Why are you a nonprofit?
- What's this Foundation for National Progress thing?
- Why should I give you money?
- How can I give you money?
- Why should I subscribe when I can read you online?
- Who can I talk to about my subscription?
- You have coeditors?
- How's that working?
- Wasn't Michael Moore an editor?
- Why do you accept advertising?
- My brother says you're a lefty pinko rag. True?
- My sister says you're an apologist for the DNC. True?
- Do you have an internship program?
- Did I see one of your writers on the Colbert Report?
- You've been online since when?
- What's so special about your redesign?
- Why won't you print the truth about 9/11?
- How come you started a Washington, DC, bureau?
- Do you publish poetry?
- Is Kevin Drum based in DC?
- Why are there so many people on your staff named Kevin?
- What's with the MoJo baby boom?
- Got any jobs?
- Will you publish me?
- Will you investigate _______?
- Why are you in San Francisco?
- Are you a union shop?
- Did you win a National Magazine Award?
- Why don't you make endorsements?
- So what's your value system then?
What's with the name?
Mary Harris "Mother" Jones was a very cool woman who fought for the underdog and made herself up to look way older than she was so that when she got beat down by Pinkerton agents, she'd gain public sympathy. Brilliant! That said, it's an odd name for a magazine. Our founders had originally wanted to call it New Dimensions (no comment), but when that name was taken, they pegged their ID to the radical reformer who'd been dubbed "the most dangerous woman in America." Too bad not many people actually know who she was. Self-congratulatory consultants always offer that we should rebrand, but that takes a lot of money, which we've decided to spend on the actual journalism instead. Besides, you'll find that it grows on you. (back to top)
Who owns Mother Jones?
You do. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and the lion's share of our revenue comes from subscriptions and donors, big and small. We couldn't do it without you. We also take ads for both the magazine and the website, which accounts for about a third of our income. (back to top)
Why are you a nonprofit?
Being a magazine that investigates everything, including corporations, and takes a pass on celebrity fluff doesn't exactly scream "ad friendly" or "giant profits." So the founders decided to diversify the income stream. This way, we're not beholden to any conglomerate. And since our donor pool is broad, we're not beholden to any person or foundation, either. (back to top)
What's this Foundation for National Progress thing?
That is the name of the aforementioned umbrella organization that exists to publish and support Mother Jones. (back to top)
Why should I give you money?
Reporting takes money. It's that simple. It doesn't matter if you prefer your journalism on paper or via the Internet, it takes skilled reporters to investigate corrupt politicians and corporations. If you want us to help protect the public interest, it's in your interest to support us. (back to top)
How can I give you money?
Why should I subscribe when I can read you online?
Excellent question. We believe in the Internets, so we put all of our magazine content online. Still, you should subscribe. For one thing, the online experience still doesn't do justice to a long read. Or great photography or illustration. But beyond that, the reason is that if you like us, subscribing is the easiest, cheapest, best-value way to support us. Not only do we get your $12 (that's the introductory price, a 66 percent savings over newsstand), but the more subscribers we have, the more companies pay to advertise with us, the more foundations give us for special projects, and the more we can throw our weight around…in the nicest, most democratic way. (If you want the art and design, but want to skip the dead trees, subscribe to the digital edition.) (back to top)
Who can I talk to about my subscription?
You have coeditors?
How's that working?
Pretty damn well, if two National Magazine Awards for General Excellence, the praise of many media columnists, increases in print subscriptions, the doubling of our Web traffic, and the launch of an eight-reporter DC bureau is any indication. We're just saying. (back to top)
Wasn't Michael Moore an editor?
Yes, he was, for about three issues back in 1986. Michael and MoJo famously parted ways–he sued, we settled, he took the money and used it to make Roger and Me–long before current management came on the scene. We wish Michael continued luck and health and would love to buy him a beer, or a latte, the next time he's in San Francisco. (back to top)
Why do you accept advertising?
My brother says you're a lefty pinko rag. True?
Here's where we're coming from: We believe all people should have equal opportunity in life, that all children should be able to go to good schools, and that everyone should have health care. Call that what you will–we're not insulted by being called left, liberal, progressive, whatever. (We've noticed, though, that the people who resort to name-calling are often just trying to distract the public from their own misdeeds.) Political inclinations notwithstanding, we will cheerfully investigate any people or entities of any political persuasion, right, left, or center, if their behavior warrants it. (back to top)
My sister says you're an apologist for the DNC. True?
Nothing makes us crankier than lefties who are as close-minded and unwilling to think things through as those whom they attack. Identity politics is up there, too. 'Nuff said. (back to top)
Do you have an internship program?
Did I see one of your writers on the Colbert Report?
Yes! And Hardball, and Situation Room, and Good Morning America, and The Daily Show, and so on. A link to clip highlights is coming soon, along with goodies from radio and print. (back to top)
You've been online since when?
In 1993 we became the first general interest magazine to go online, beating many of our competitors by close to a decade. That said, we kinda let the site languish for many years. No more. When Clara and Monika took the helm, they added an eight-person DC bureau that pumps out stories 24-7, added established bloggers like Kevin Drum, and redesigned the site to use Web 2.0 technology to its fullest potential. (back to top)
What's so special about your redesign?
For one thing, we decided to use Drupal, an open source framework, to power the site. That means that we're part of a community of coders that believes in transparency and flexibility. For another, we've introduced a custom commenting system that allows readers to organize around the issues we report on. Read more about the new site's bells and whistles here. (back to top)
Why won't you print the truth about 9/11?
How come you started a Washington, DC, bureau?
We wanted to publish more journalism than a bimonthly magazine could possibly hold. We like the ability to combine the substance of good reporting with the speed and networks of the Internet. And we felt that the cuts that have been decimating newsrooms across the country are dangerous to the public interest. So with the support of people like you, we decided to buck the trend and hire reporters–eight of them, including DC bureau chief David Corn. Together they have launched investigations that have populated the magazine and the site, including many that have made headlines across the country and even across the world. (back to top)
Do you publish poetry?
No. We like it, but we don't publish it. (back to top)
Is Kevin Drum based in DC?
No. Though Kevin blogs about politics (and cats), he is actually based in Orange County. Which of course has its own wacky brand of politics, which he also blogs about. (back to top)
Why are there so many people on your staff named Kevin?
What's with the MoJo baby boom?
Another statistical anomaly. Of late, no fewer than eight staffers (out of about fifty) have become parents, including both of our coeditors. Okay, maybe it's just the demographics of the place, but for a while there, we were worried about the water. (back to top)
Got any jobs?
Will you publish me?
Will you investigate _______?
We seriously welcome tips on stories of national importance (so, not that your neighbor is a jerk). If you feel you have some information that bears further investigation, please contact us here. (back to top)
Why are you in San Francisco?
That's where the folks who founded the magazine happened to be at the time. Though Rolling Stone left for New York (leaving us a very nice conference table, btw, complete with knife marks purportedly inflicted by Hunter S. Thompson), a lot of good publications are here fighting that Manhattan hegemony. Wired, Salon, and Dwell are all Bay Area pubs. We do, however, have a bureau in Washington, DC. (back to top)
Are you a union shop?
Because Mary Harris "Mother" Jones was a labor leader, sometimes people mistakenly think that we are devoted to labor issues. We cover them, and a lot more. As for our own shop, about half of our employees are represented by the UAW Local 2103. Why are editors and so forth represented by the UAW? Employees decided to throw their lot in with the union they considered to be the most powerful at the time. Those were the days. (back to top)
Did you win a National Magazine Award?
We've won six, and been nominated for many more, but our most recent coup was winning the 2010 National Magazine Award for General Excellence. That's sort of like winning Best Picture. We won that award in 2008 too. We've also won Webbies and John Bartlow Martins and whole bunches of other awards. (back to top)
Why don't you make endorsements?
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit we're forbidden by law to do so. But, also, we're not a magazine that chiefly publishes opinion. We're about reporting. If we endorsed candidates we might be loath to then investigate them. We want to keep our options open. (back to top)
So what's your value system then?
Principally we're about good journalism, following a story no matter where it takes us. We are interested in protecting the little guy and uncovering injustice. We also believe in good storytelling and coverage that surprises. We have no interest in preaching to a choir. (back to top)