Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery

Editor-in-Chief

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.

 

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Salopek sits in a Sudanese jail, charged with espionage and reporting "false news." Basically his crime was sneaking across the border to report on Darfur. (Reporters need to sneak in, because the Sudanese government doesn't want the press to expose how it supports the militias behind the atrocities.)

That he's won the Pulitzer twice speaks to his skill as a reporter and writer. He's also a great guy, as anyone who's ever had even a passing acquaintance with him will tell you. A dozen or so years ago, my dad, then an editor at the National Geographic, hired Paul into a staff writing job, a hire that still makes dad feel like a genius, as he likes to joke. The position in question was mostly a desk job and Paul quickly outgrew it. He went to the Chicago Tribune in 1996 and got into the field. Over the last decade he won his Pulitzers for his Tribune reporting, and has written lyrical, probing features for the Geographic, for whom he was on assignment when arrested by the Sudanese thugs. As his former Tribune colleague Ken Armstrong points out in this moving piece, Paul's known for chasing the tough story, the dangerous story, the story on the downtrodden and ignored:


He's told stories from Africa, Afghanistan, Asia and the Balkans, stories about refugees, rebels and victims of war, about pirates, poachers, gunrunners and killers, about a child in Ethiopia forced to marry at age 7 and a 13-year-old schoolgirl in Angola tortured for being a witch. He's told stories through hardship and will, with datelines like: THE MOUNTAINS OF WESTERN KOSOVO; THE SHOMALI PLAIN, Afghanistan; THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS OF ETHIOPIA.

The State Department has intervened on Paul's behalf, and I'm sure the Tribune, the Geographic, and the CPJ are doing whatever they can to ensure his release.

Paul didn't let his success go to his head. So I'm sure he'd be the first to point out that his fate is inexorably linked to other journalists doing dangerous work, often without such large, powerful institutions behind them. In reporting on Paul's situation yesterday, NPR noted that while he's been moved to a relatively decent jail, a Slovenian filmmaker who faced the same charges has been sentenced to two years, and is being held in what sounds like an absolute hell hole. Paul's driver and interpreter, both Chadians, have also been arrested. The trial for the three of them is scheduled for September 10th.

Robots Gone Wild! (ABC Uses Science to Scare)

Ok, anything that gets the American public more interested in science is good. And yet, I really have to question the judgment of Neil de Grasse Tyson—the man who first demoted Pluto!; but on that front, people, deal—and other notable scientists for appearing on ABC's pseudo-scientific offering, "Last Days on Earth!"

Now, given that a huge chuck of TV programming on any given night is devoted to the grossly overstated threat from serial killers and pedophiles (more on that in a later post), people are probably relieved to confront threats they cannot hope to protect against. ABC has obliged with a Top Ten list of scary, scary threats to the planet, such as:

No. 8: Gamma radiation from nearby astral implosion. Anyone got the odds on that one?

No. 7: Black hole swallowing earth. What, does it just appear astern, like on the season premiere of "Deep Space Nine"?

No. 6: AI Gone Wild! Yes, indeedy, many Disney-owned film clips were pressed into service.

Number 5: Killer asteroid. Yawn.

Number 4: Still not entirely sure. "Many of our threats come from above. Only one comes from below…" i.e. some kind of geophysical meltdown that, according to ABC, "might" happen under Yellowstone. (You know, it is one thing to rope in media-sophisticated scientists interviewed in some kind of Truthiness studio setting to do your bidding. It is another thing to interview every law-enforcement official and EMT guy in Rapid City, SD, and ask: What could you hope to do if a giant cloud of ash swallowed your city?)

Number 3: Nuclear war. Wait, that's a real threat. Yet, while experts sanely noted the biggest risk still from U.S./U.S.S.R, most of the file footage was about Iran.

Number 2: Plague/Flu. Oddly, since 10 minutes earlier, ABC had made the point that only one threat "comes from below," plague is now shouted out to be the only threat "not sent from above." And wait, plague or flu could be weaponized! One biologist notes: "some people say, thank god that Ted Kaczynski was a mathematician, not a biologist." Snap!

Number 1: Wait for it…yes, it is global warming. And, though sensationalized and overly reliant on Al Gore (yet another indicator he's running, btw.), the segment was relatively smart.

Smart enough that it made me wonder if this whole show wasn't the product of some producers concerned about global warming asking themselves: How do we sell this to network brass/ advertisers? Wait! I know! A Top Ten list!

Ok, not to make too much of this, because, as best as I can tell, Hype Stalker practices a sort of "I wish I worked for Gawker" style of snark. But still, here's what the New York Press' columnist had to say about Monika and I becoming the co-editors of this magazine:

Does anyone really think that Mother Jones appointing two editors-in-chief (Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery) will actually work? (Cue the cat reorws and hisses!)

How about, Cue the misogynistic clichés?

Now, it is fair game to ask, how does a co-editorship work? (To which we say, among other things, it seemed to work just fine at The New York Review of Books for decades.) The question I have is, if the two editors in question were both men, or a man and a woman, would they be subjected to the equivalent of a "Chicks in Chains" stereotype? Or more to the point, bad writing?

Come what may, there will be no hair pulling in this big house. That's a promise.

And while I'm on the subject, the Forbes story, on which Liz has blogged (here and here), just gets better and better. Do not miss the side-by-side comparison of the mind blowingly Neanderthalish Michael Noer article on how career women make lousy wives (!!) with Forbes writer Elizabeth Corcoran's rebuttal, "Don't Marry a Lazy Man." Forbes notes the Noer article has prompted "a heated response, both inside and outside the building." Yeah, from among others, probably any woman, married or unmarried, who's got any personal or professional history with Michael Noer.

For more evidence on that front, follow the jump to a cached version of "The Economics of Prostitution"—another bit of (moldy) "academic analysis" by Noer that Forbes seems to have taken down from its website. Highlights include: "Wives, in truth, are superior to whores in the economist's sense of being a good whose consumption increases as income rises--like fine wine. "

Washington Correspondent James Ridgeway will be on C-Span's "Washington Journal" tomorrow morning at 9:30 EST talking about the story he wrote for our hot-on-the-newstands Sept/Oct issue, "Sweet Subpoena
: Nine Tough Questions for Congress." In it, Ridgeway details what kind of Congressional investigations might take place if the Democrats win back one or both chambers of Congress (and get some guts in the process). Here's the nine, short form:

  • Who lost Iraq?
  • Did Donald Rumsfeld order torture (if not, who did)?
  • Who Blew 9/11?
  • What did the airlines know, and when did they know it?
  • How wide is the domestic surveillance net?
  • Is Big Oil pulling an Enron?
  • Who's making money off your retirement?
  • Why is the morning-after pill not at your 7-11?

and the kicker:

  • Grounds for impeachment?

IDF Reservists Protest Lebanon Action

A couple of years ago, Gershom Gorenberg wrote a great piece for Mother Jones about the Israel Defense Force reservists known as "refusniks" because they refused participate in the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Now various groups of IDF reservists are protesting the war in Lebanon as well, as the New York Times reports:

[One] group of Israeli reservist soldiers who served during the recent fighting in Lebanon, angry about the conduct of the war, on Monday demanded the resignations of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz.

The reservists, most of whom have gone back to civilian life, say that their training was inadequate and that they were sent into Lebanon with unclear missions, inadequate supplies, outdated equipment and a lack of basics, like drinking water. They called for a national inquiry into how the war was waged.

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