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.

 

MoJo Writer Imprisoned in Iran: 365 Days is Too Long

| Sun Aug. 1, 2010 3:04 AM EDT

As we enjoy a summer weekend with friends and family, it bears remembering that, for the families and friends of Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal, this weekend marks a milestone of misery: As of Saturday, it had been exactly one year since the three were arrested while hiking in the scenic border region between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran. Theories differ on exactly how the arrest took place: the three may have accidentally crossed the border, or they may have been snatched while inside Iraq. (Their traveling companion, Shon Meckfessel, who stayed behind that day because he had a cold, sent us a wrenching account of the last call he got from his friends.) 

This much is for sure: They were not spies for the United States, as Iran has alleged (so far without pursuing the charge in its own courts). Bauer is a talented, muckraking journalist whose most recent story for Mother Jones looked at how the US government was using construction and other contracts to pay off corrupt ex-warlords in Iraq. (He also worked with the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and New America Media.) Shourd--who became engaged to Bauer while in prison in Iran--was teaching English to Iraqi kids in Damascus, where she lived with Bauer prior to their arrest. Fattal had worked at a sustainability center in Oregon and taught overseas. All of them have been held in near-isolation (Shourd is being held by herself, while the two men share a cell), without access to the Iranian lawyer their family has hired to them or the rest of the outside world. Their only contact with their families came in May, when the mothers were allowed to visit; both Shourd and Bauer have reportedly struggled with illness while in prison.

It's no surprise that the three are being used as pawns by the Iranian government—that's a trick just about every country has used. But a year is enough, especially for three people who have committed no offense except being insufficiently paranoid in exploring a tourist region world-renowned for its beauty. Nothing good can come from their languishing behind bars, whereas once released, they would likely go back to their work for truth and human rights. We hope that day comes soon.

There are vigils and protests throughout this weekend seeking the hikers' release; you can follow the Free the Hikers campaign on Twitter and Facebook. Even President Obama has weighed in. Read his statement after the jump.

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Someone Pinch Us: MoJo Wins Another "Magazine Oscar"

| Fri Apr. 23, 2010 7:45 PM EDT

24 hours later, our heads are still spinning from the National Magazine Awards gala last night. MoJo has been nominated in the General Excellence category each year for the past three; we won in 2008 and again this year. That's an amazing honor that belongs to everyone here—from the CEO, publisher, and board of directors all the way to our fearless interns. But it also belongs to you, our readers, who sustain this operation in a way that really unprecedented in the publishing industry. Some of you help by spreading the word about MoJo on Facebook and Twitter; many of you subscribe, and tens of thousands of you also donate. To know that our readers value the kind of fiercely independent journalism—"tough and tenacious," the magazine award judges called it—is the thing that's kept us going through a pretty rough time for media. (Okay, that and the hot chocolate mix in the kitchen.) So please consider this Ellie your own. Just be careful when you set it on the mantle. Those pointy things are sharp.

P.S. Big congratulations to our fellow Gen Ex nominees—Foreign Policy, Garden & Gun, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Paste—as well as all the nominees and winners, and a special shout-out to the other San Francisco mags whose wins made it a big Bay night at the NMAs: McSweeney's, San Francisco Magazine, and Wired. You all rock.

Stewart Rhodes Doesn't Like MoJo. That's Why You Do.

| Mon Apr. 19, 2010 7:12 PM EDT

At a press conference for this weekend's big gun-rights rally in Washington, D.C., Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes announced that he's thinking about suing us over Justine Sharrock's profile of his organization, a fast-rising right-wing group that is recruiting men and women in uniform to resist the Obama administration. Rhodes is upset that we featured Oath Keepers supporters who talk openly about taking up arms against the government, and says that instead we should have focused on the Navy officer who sits on his board (and who seems in unshakeably good cheer when answering questions like, "That's the ultimate cost of freedom, isn't it—blood?").

The thing is, talk of armed resistance is what our reporter, Justine Sharrock, heard over and over during the months she spent reporting on Rhodes' organization—going to Oath Keepers conferences, spending time in Oath Keepers chat rooms, and meeting as many of the group's supporters as she could. She wrote the story she found, not the story she was directed to. That's what good reporters do, even when it earns them angry comments, threats of litigation, or worse. (Last year, another one of our writers, Anna Lenzer, was detained and not-so-subtly threatened with rape while investigating Fiji Water).

Some MoJo reporters are working on in-depth exposes—on the industry that stands in the way of housing relief, for example, and on a mysterious birth-defect cluster near a toxic-waste landfill—right now. Others are in Washington, keeping tabs on folks like the Congressman who calls other lawmakers "domestic enemies." The reason they can stay on the beat is... well, you. MoJo relies on our readers' help; hundreds of you have pitched in to get us to the goal of $25,000 for our current drive, but we're not there yet. You can give 50 cents, $5, or $50, via credit card, PayPal, or check in the mail. Try it! It'll feel good to be part of one of a very few reader-supported news organizations in America.

The Climate Desk: A Journalistic Collaboration

| Mon Apr. 19, 2010 2:00 AM EDT

This Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Back in 1970, some 20 million people are estimated to have participated in activities and protests of various kinds, some of them captured by a hour-long CBS News special report, "Earth Day: A Question of Survival," narrated by Walter Cronkite.

To watch that report on YouTube is to crack a time capsule—the hair, the teach-ins, a young Dan Rather—but also to absorb a message that is depressingly familiar, particularly the 2:40 minute concluding jeremiad from Cronkite about how Americans need to reform their ways. And we did reform in many ways. The air and rivers are cleaner, there’s less litter, bald eagles have rebounded, and so forth. But the environmental problems that seemed so dire then seem simple by comparison to the ones we confront now, principally climate change. And has journalism risen to the task of explaining these complexities, not only the scientific ones, which are daunting enough, but the competing proposals and interests among the politicians, policy makers, and technologists? Mostly the answer is, not really.

Why? Well, climate change is slow-moving, vast, and often overwhelming for news organizations to grapple with, especially in a time of dwindling resources. What coverage there is tends to be compartmentalized—science, technology, politics, and business and covered by different teams or “desks," despite the intrinsic connections. Coverage is also too often fixated on imperiled wildlife, political gamesmanship, or the “debate” over the existence of climate change, all at the expense of advancing the bigger story—how we’re going to address, mitigate, or adapt to it.

In sum, it’s a huge story, perhaps the biggest story of our lifetime, but the traditional structures of journalism aren’t configured to reporting it well. Thinking about this problem we wondered, what if someone were to pull together a range of news organizations—with their various skill sets and their audiences—to take on this story together? And so a group of editors met to discuss if such an unprecedented collaboration could work.

Four months later we’re so excited to introduce the Climate Desk, an ongoing project dedicated to exploring the impact—human, environmental, economic, political—of a changing climate. The partners in this endeavor are The Atlantic, Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, Mother Jones, Slate, Wired, and PBS' new public affairs show Need To Know. Our pilot project, running over the next two weeks, will address how business is attempting to adapt to the changes—both meteorological and regulatory—that will accompany global warming. Stories will run on the sites of the partner organizations and on theclimatedesk.org. (You can also follow the collaboration on Facebook and on Twitter.) It's been a lot of hard work, a ton of fun, and we've only just begun. So check it out, tell us what you think and what we should tackle next.
 

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