Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
Driven by its independent investigative reporting on American politics, corporate power, social change, and the environment, Mother Jones today reported breakthrough increases for 2010 in online traffic, digital ad revenue, and donor support for this nonprofit organization. It was a year that also saw steady rises in print circulation and social media participation.
According to CEO Madeleine Buckingham and Publisher Steve Katz, monthly page views and unique visitors to MotherJones.com in 2010 increased by more than 50 percent over the previous year. Page views averaged more than 3.1 million per month in 2010, and unique visitors grew to more than 1 million per month in the second half of 2010. Signups to Mother Jones' e-newsletters likewise grew by more than 50 percent, and now top more than 100,000 readers.
With a 28 percent increase over last year, online advertising brought in more revenue than print advertising for the first time since Mother Jones launched its website in 1993. Just as significantly, the number of people who supported this nonprofit organization by making donations grew by 48 percent to over 27,000—the largest number of donors in Mother Jones' recent history. Online donations to Mother Jones grew by 240 percent in this one year alone.
2010 also saw impressive growth in social media traffic for Mother Jones. The organization's Facebook community increased by 263 percent to just under 30,000 fans, and its Twitter following showed a 218 percent growth rate to 29,242 followers. That means Mother Jones' reporting is reaching new—and younger—audiences, and it's helped drive website traffic growth in 2010, too: Of the top 10 traffic sources for MotherJones.com, 5 were social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Reddit, and Digg), which had an average increase of 239 percent in referrals.
"Social media is an integral part of our digital business strategy," Katz said, "but it's much more than that. Social media is a way for us for us to have a deep, ongoing conversation with our core community, and to get our reporting out to people who might not have seen our magazine or visited our website. And it’s a crucial component of how our reporters do their work."
In addition, paid circulation for Mother Jones magazine increased by 6.2 percent to 215,199 in the first half of 2010, compared with second-half 2009 figures. "That makes Mother Jones one of the few journalism outfits to actually see year-over-year growth in its print audience," Buckingham said, "and it speaks volumes about the demand for our kind of independent, follow-the-facts reporting."
Co-edited by Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery since 2006, Mother Jones continued its winning streak in 2010 with more than 26 awards for investigative reporting, photojournalism, and illustration. These included the 2010 National Magazine Award for General Excellence (the "Oscars" of the magazine trade) and the Online News Association's 2010 Online Topical Reporting award for team coverage of the BP oil spill. Mother Jones was the only magazine that publishes a print edition to take home an ONA award this year.
It’s no wonder that Mother Jones has delighted observers with, as one columnist put it, its "almost rollicking" spirit. No matter the medium or the story, readers say they value Mother Jones for its integrity and its independent perspective.