Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery


Clara is the Editor-in-Chief of Mother Jones. During her tenure, Mother Jones has won National Magazine Awards for general excellence, relaunched its website, and established bureaus in Washington and New York. Along the way Clara won a PEN award for editing, gave birth, and forgot what it's like to sleep. It probably doesn't help she's on Twitter so much.

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Clara Jeffery is Editor-in-Chief of Mother Jones where, together with Monika Bauerlein, she has spearheaded an era of editorial growth and innovation, marked by the addition of now 13-person Washington bureau, an overhaul of the organization's digital strategy and a corresponding 15-fold growth in traffic, and the winning of two National Magazine Awards for general excellence. When Jeffery and Bauerlein received a PEN award for editing in 2012, the judges noted: "With its sharp, compelling blend of investigative long-form journalism, eye-catching infographics and unapologetically confident voice, Mother Jones under Jeffery and Bauerlein has been transformed from what was a respected—if under-the-radar—indie publication to an internationally recognized, powerhouse general-interest periodical influencing everything from the gun-control debate to presidential campaigns." In addition to their success on the print side, Jeffery and Bauerlein's relentless attention to detail, boundless curiosity and embrace of complex subjects are also reflected on the magazine's increasingly influential website, whose writers and reporters often put more well-known and deep-pocketed news divisions to shame. Before joining the staff of Mother Jones, Jeffery was a senior editor of Harper's magazine. Fourteen pieces that she personally edited have been finalists for National Magazine Awards, in the categories of essay, profile, reporting, public interest, feature, and fiction. Works she edited have also been selected to appear in various editions of Best American Essays, Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing, and Best American Science Writing. Clara cut her journalistic teeth at Washington City Paper, where she wrote and edited political, investigative, and narrative features, and was a columnist. Jeffery is a graduate of Carleton College and Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. She resides in the Mission District of San Francisco with her partner Chris Baum and their son, Milo. Their burrito joint of choice is El Metate.


From My Friend in Haiti

| Sat Jan. 16, 2010 1:06 AM EST

"I'm in Haiti." Thus began a series of emails and texts from my friend (and MoJo board member) Jon Pageler, who's in Haiti as part of a big relief/supply run being mounted by his company Diageo. For the specifics of what they're doing—45,000 pounds of food, WHO sanctioned health kits, and the participation of the Washington Redskins (true!)— I had to dig out a press release. But Jon's notes, which I've cobbled together with his permission, give a flavor of what's happening that I thought was worth passing along.

Made delivery with DHL of 2 truck loads of supplies 2 Salvation army's mission on Dumas 2 (factcheck4me). Very poor neighborhood very badly damaged. Mission is housing about 80 refugee families. Still many bodies in the street although most r covered with sheets. The smell of decomposition is beginning 2 take hold. Massive fabric shanty towns have sprung up all over the city. Airport much better controlled now. Planes r getting in, even at night. Carrier (at least what it looked like flying in) off our shore. Just said hello to Diane Sawyer. Haitians seem united. Big march today in solidarity, filled with song, emotion and resolve. Food and medical relief will soon be reaching many more.

And a little later:

All is good here. We are overnighting on the tarmac, literally. We built a fort of sorts out of the remaining food supplies and are sleeping on the bags of rice. Airport is very noisy as there is a steady stream of C-130s and C-17s coming in. Wind from the jets/props actually helps with the bugs and keeps the air circulating so it has its pluses.

Many of the newly arriving relief workers are pitching tents in the grass lawns at the end of the airport so things are pretty secure in here. Our fort will be gone (dispersed) tomorrow so we will have to find another solution to our sleeping situation. Skies are clear so that is a good thing and Mars appears to be burning brightly.

We've had more than a few relief workers and media ask if we could spare some food and we've allocated a ration of corn beef hash for that purpose. We are hoping some of that goodwill will get us on a search and rescue mission with the French team that flew in today along with their dogs—after we've finished delivering the rest of the supplies, of course. Good news about the airport and our DHL friends is that they have power, so we can get charged up. Sat phones are worthless for incoming so use email or text.
There is just a ton of activity here now. Probably 20 big planes an hour. Fuel and water are in short supply so hopefully there is a planeload or two of those. Even search and rescue have been asking us for water. And I don't even want to know how much we've been paying for gas.

Next email came a few hours later. To understand this it helps to know that Jon used to do advance for political campaigns.

Getting here was planes trains and automobiles—ok, only planes but it felt like it. We flew to Miami on thursday 6am, heard that planes were not getting in to PAP and that they were being diverted to Turks and Caicos. So we flew to T&C thursday morning to try to negotiate a ride on a plane. Problem was that the airport was way too congested and planes that had been circling for upwards of three hours were landing at our FBO. Including a Canadian military plane. So we began to lose faith and began calling fishing boat captains. When that didn't work we began considering flying into Dom Rep and driving over. We had heard varying stories of success. Some trips taking 6 hours, others taking 16. We almost took a Dom Rep flight opportunity but decided against it when a collection of Haitians arrived. They were clearly doers, and rich, and you just knew that they were going to get into PAP no matter what. At about the same time a DC3 from Missionary Flights International landed and decided to overnight and yet first thing in the morning. Sounded like a good plan as it was getting close to dusk and we didn't want to arrive here at night (although now that we have seen the situation here that would not have been a problem). We found a cheap hotel and had a truly spectacular dinner in T&C and planned for a 6:30 departure to the airport. We were told it got light around 8am and that the airport didn't open until 7.

While it was true that the airport opened at 7, it was not true that dawn came at 8am, as the morning glow through my window just before 6am indicated. And this was all the rich Haitians needed —we saw their plane climbing from the tarmac as we were loading our bags into the taxi. This was deflating as they had a huge plane we knew that they would let us ride with them. And we had no doubt they'd make it in. Even if they just landed without permission.The MFI flight also needed to take on a ton of extra fuel so they couldn't take us due to weight concerns.

Things weren't looking good so I began securing us a single prop plane that would try to pick its way to the closest strip it could find to PAP. As we were finalising that deal a pair of dual prop planes chartered by the Salvation Army showed up. They had two extra seats and an interest in us cause we were advancing a plane with medical supplies and food. This fact could help them get permission to land at PAP, which it is what it is all about these days. Well, it worked and we are here. As is our cargo plane - a 727-200 with 45K worth of supplies.

Jesus there are a ton of planes pulling in and none of them are turning off their engines.


Jon's next letter, Day Two: Trying to Leave the Airport, can be read here. Day Three, Looting, What Looting, can be read here


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MoJo or Latte? You Decide.

| Wed Dec. 30, 2009 6:33 AM EST

We'll keep this short. It takes a lot of things to do investigative journalism, but none of them are worth a damn without you, our readers. Your support is our biggest source of revenue—we're like public radio that way, only we can't hold your programming hostage until you pitch in. And yet many of you do pitch in, giving $5, $10, whatever you can. You understand that at a time when our political system seems dominated by behind-the-scenes dealmaking, we need independent reporting to keep democracy alive. And you understand that such muckraking never has paid for itself, and certainly doesn't now at a time of media and economic crisis. You, and a lot of frugal budgeting, kept us going through a year when other publications fired reporters left and right, or just shut down altogether. But the year is not over yet, and we haven't been able to quite close the shortfall left by the implosion of advertising and other commercial revenue. Your help will allow us to keep going in 2010—and we promise we'll put it to good use, especially in keeping tabs on those who got all of us into this mess to start with. It's easy—you can give any amount that works for you, in seconds, via credit card or PayPal. Thank you. 

And if you're not yet convinced that you, our readers, are amazing, consider this letter we got a few days ago. 

I'm sorry that I am only managing to donate $5, at this time. My Husband and I work for Ford, we build the Mustang.  We just returned from a 3 week layoff, it was to readjust inventory.  In 2 weeks we will be laid off again, in fact 14 weeks are scheduled for 2010. I wish Americans would buy American.  We're damn good workers, Our Car is quality built...our sweat and lives go into every vehicle.

I LOVE Your articles. I love that I can hear a truth. I owe You something, even if it's only $5....still, please forgive me that I'm not allowed to send more. I will when I can.  

Senate Passes Health Care Reform

| Thu Dec. 24, 2009 12:49 PM EST

So, after much scare mongering, hand wringing, and deal making, and pork slinging, the Senate has just finally passed its version of health care reform. Now the battle to reconcile the House and Senate bills starts, and that's where the real fun lies. Meanwhile the circular firing squad has begun. Kevin fills you in on what you need to know.

Copenhagen: Time To Get Over Ourselves

| Mon Dec. 7, 2009 4:16 AM EST

A few hours ago, the United Nations agency that is organizing the Copenhagen climate conference sent out a beleaguered-sounding email saying that the conference venue fits 15,000, but 34,000 people—delegates from around the world, journalists, NGO representatives—are trying to attend, so they're implementing a "quota system." Does that mean Al and Leo will have to wait in line?

For updates on that and many other pressing questions, bookmark the Blue Marble, MoJo's environmental blog, which will be covering the climate talks 24/7. Our Washington bureau chief, David Corn, is headed there as we write, as is blogger Kate Sheppard, and essayist Bill McKibben. And because climate change is the biggest story of our lifetimes, we've also joined forces with a group of other journalism shops, including the Nation, Grist, Treehugger, the Center for Investigative Reporting/Frontline World, the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, and The Uptake—together, we have several dozen reporters on the ground, and we'll be using a nifty by-journalists-for-journalists technology called Publish2 to pull together all of their posts and stories. (Check the right-hand column of the Blue Marble for the feed, and also this page.)

Hey, if any group of people is harder to get to collaborate than politicians, it's probably journalists. If the latter can get over our myriad hangups and work together, maybe there's hope for the former. (P.S.—while you're thinking about it, why not put a picture of your kid--or your pet, favorite celebrity, or self—on our climate cover? It's a fun way to let your friends, or your representatives, know where you stand.)

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