Tue Jan. 24, 2012
Elizabeth Gettelman,
Phone Number: 


Traffic, ad revenue soar, donor support leads the nonprofit journalism world

2011 was one of the most successful years in Mother Jones' 36-year run. Anchored by in-depth investigations of America’s recession-era economy and income inequality, Mother Jones helped steer the national dialogue in a turbulent year. Soaring traffic gains and jumps in online ad revenue matched an unprecedented wave of breaking exposés, viral content, and as-it-happens reporting.

Last year, award-winning saw a 105 percent increase in unique visitors and an 88 percent increase in monthly pageviews compared to 2010. Overall visits to the site doubled as did pageviews, with a record-breaking 7 million pageviews for the site in November. Social-media traffic to saw particularly notable gains, with a 188 percent year-over-year increase in visitors referred from user-driven communities.

"2011 was a benchmark year," says Mother Jones President and CEO Madeleine Buckingham. "Publishing revelatory journalism is only the first step; as our online traffic and social-media data indicate, our stories struck a chord, and people transformed from drive-by readers into regular followers."

Marked traffic growth mirrored a steady uptick in online advertising revenue in 2011, including an 85 percent increase in first-quarter digital ad revenue following a string of record-breaking months. Overall, the organization saw a 77 percent increase in online ad sales in 2011 and print ad revenue saw a 10 percent gain over 2010 as Mother Jones demonstrated its ability to attract and retain print advertisers during an industry-wide slowdown.

A nonprofit, Mother Jones continued to cultivate a robust donor base in 2011. Nearly 31,000 donors—more than any other independent investigative-news outlet in the country—contributed financially to the organization last year, a 14 percent jump from 2010. Likewise, the percentage of individual digital donations rose 19 percent in 2011, again underscoring the vibrant rapport Mother Jones has with its audience. 

Employing multimedia tools to enhance its storytelling, Mother Jones enriched its visual quotient across the board in 2011. A series of graphics about income inequality created in February garnered more than 3 million visits (and counting). The charts were featured on The Colbert Report and inspired readers to fashion them into placards as they occupied Wall Street. One tweeter deemed them “the greatest protest sign ever made."

Mother Jones also broke new reportorial ground with its explainers—regularly updated digests that combined original reporting with real-time updates from Cairo to Wall Street. And the publication’s political reporters scored numerous exclusives ranging from exposing a Mitt Romney adviser with ties to Middle Eastern warlords to confidential audio from a closed-door Koch brothers conclave. "Our stories have captured the prevailing mood of the country," co-editors Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery said. "For many readers, our journalism offers as clear and visceral an account as they’re likely to find—shoe-leather reporting, in-depth investigation, and a healthy dose of sass."

In 2011 the publishing industry recognized Mother Jones' achievements with more than a dozen award nominations and wins for its cutting-edge content and exemplary business practices. MoJo added notable firepower to its reporting stable last year: food and ag blogger Tom Philpott, formerly of Grist; DC reporter Adam Serwer, formerly of the American Prospect; and multimedia reporter James West, who took the helm at the Climate Desk (a partnership with The Atlantic, Wired, Slate, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, and PBS's Need to Know). With extensive election coverage—including a dark-money project tracing political fundsMother Jones is poised for continued growth and impact in 2012.