Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery

Editor in Chief

Since taking the editorial helm at Mother Jones in late 2006, Clara and her co-editor, Monika Bauerlein, have won two National Magazine Awards for general excellence, relaunched MotherJones.com, founded a now 13-person Washington bureau, won a PEN award for editing, given birth, and forgotten what it's like to sleep. It probably doesn't help she's on Twitter so much.

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Clara Jeffery is co-editor 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.

 

Behind the Story: MoJo's Investigation of Terrorism Informants

| Sun Aug. 21, 2011 1:46 PM EDT

Maybe you've wondered, on occasion of a press conference announcing another major terrorism bust: Why does it seem as if the FBI's undercover operatives actually encouraged—even thought up—the plot? Why do the targets come off as hapless losers unable to organize so much as a poker game? How come it was the government that provided the fake conspiracy, the fake car bomb or missile, even the fake Al Qaeda oath?

Trevor Aaronson wondered, too, and because he's an investigative reporter, he decided to do something about it: look at every terrorism case the government has prosecuted since 9/11 and dig through the evidence and testimony. The result is the lead story in our new magazine cover package, "Terrorists for the FBI." 

Among the project's conclusions: 

  • Nearly half the prosecutions involved the use of informants, many of them incentivized by money (operatives can be paid as much as $100,000 per assignment) or the need to work off criminal or immigration violations. 
  • Sting operations resulted in prosecutions against 158 defendants. Of that total, 49 defendants participated in plots led by an agent provocateur—an FBI operative instigating terrorist action.
  • With three exceptions, all of the high-profile domestic terror plots of the last decade were actually FBI stings.

In all, this investigation reviewed more than 500 domestic terror prosecutions (for more details, see our charts page and searchable database). How did we identify them? The federal government unwittingly helped with this research in a huge way: Attorney General Eric Holder in March 2010 testified before Congress as the Obama administration sought to put 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial in Manhattan—a plan it ultimately abandoned. One of the documents submitted to Congress was a list of all successful terrorism prosecutions from 9/11 through 2009.

Aaronson took that document, then applied the DOJ's criteria for defining terrorism cases to new federal prosecutions and brought the case list up to date as of summer 2011. Together with researcher Lauren Ellis, he went through court documents for every case—tens of thousands of pages. "We wanted an understanding of what happened in each case," Aaronson says. "But we also wanted to ferret out patterns and connections between cases. This allowed us to identify some informants by name and then link multiple cases to specific informants. It also allowed us to see how sting operations have grown steadily, year after year, since 9/11."

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Speedup Wonkdown

| Tue Jun. 21, 2011 4:47 PM EDT

July/August Cover of Mother Jones Magazine

The internet has been liking our "Speedup" essay about how Americans are being squeezed at work—no wonder, given that many of you probably read the piece sitting at a stoplight, on the phone to your boss, while firing off a couple of emails. "I haven't felt as 'hell yeah' about an article in a while," tweeted one reader. Commenters dug deep into census stats and the cost of childcare. And then there was a post by one of our favorite conservative bloggers, NRO's Reihan Salam, who in addition to calling the piece "a winner for the progressive mediasphere" (thanks!) and suggesting that we expand it into a book, asked a lot of smart questions including this one (about our point that all this overload merely serves to goose corporate profits):

If most of that 22 percent increase in profits accrued to the financial sector, should we reassess how we think about real economy firms? Could it be that addressing the pathologies of the financial sector is the right approach, not embracing more aggressive labor market regulations, collective bargaining, etc.?

Our answer, you won't be surprised to hear, is: We need both. But Salam is absolutely right that more data is needed on this whole topic—we were quite stunned, in researching the piece, at the lack of detailed research on worker productivity and its role in the economy. Could it have to do with the pollution of the economics profession? We'd dig into this immediately, but... we're slammed. Reihan, it's definitely going into the book (thanks, Ezra!) file.

Free The Reporters

| Tue May 3, 2011 2:19 AM EDT

In the rare bit of news unrelated to Osama bin Laden, today is World Press Freedom Day! Which means that the United Nations is holding a shindig in Washington, and people are giving speeches noting that press freedom is at its lowest level in 12 years, and there's a new report out on the top 10 tools used by online censors and oppressors.

For our part, we'll take this day to remember the many journalists who have lost their freedom--journalists whose suffering isn't making headlines the way the ordeals of Lara Logan and the New York Times Four did, but who are equally deserving of our sympathy and outrage. No fewer than 16 reporters are detained or missing in Libya alone right now (and four more, including photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros, have been killed); hundreds share their fate around the world. One of them is Shane Bauer, who was detained in August 2009 while hiking in a remote, scenic part of Iraqi Kurdistan near the Iranian border. He remains in prison in Iran along with his friend Josh Fattal, an environmental educator. Sarah Shourd, Shane's fiancee, was detained with the two but has since been freed. 

Shane wasn't on assignment at the time of his arrest (which according to a Nation investigation took place inside Iraq), but he had done terrific reporting from the Middle East including a Mother Jones expose on US payments to corrupt contractors in Iraq. Below is a statement by a number of the US journalists who have had the good fortune of working with him, ourselves included, urging Iran to end Shane and Josh's unjust captivity. It's been far too long. 

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