This is crazy, but it just might work?
Newsletter sign-up pitches aren’t usually much more than “Get our best reporting straight to your inbox!” or “Don’t miss a beat!” There’s nothing wrong with that. Promotional space is limited and attention spans are short.
But this is a 1,953-word post inviting you to sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Our reporting and newsletter aren’t like most others: Why should our pitch be?
The truth is, there’s so much more to signing up for our newsletter than just getting the best of our reporting. Over the years, we’ve seen that MoJo readers really respond when we pull back the curtain and matter-of-factly explain something that is important to us. Let’s give it a shot!
A lot of you are probably thinking: More email? No thanks. I have plenty.
No doubt, there is a lot of junk, outright scams, and over-the-top marketing email from brands we (used to?) like, thrown our way every day. And then there’s political fundraising, its own gnarly beast. One week last fall we counted 23 emails, five in one day, “from” Democratic strategist James Carville alone. Hands up if your inbox is drowning in that stuff? Even the account I’ve tried to keep safely guarded is full of it.
That sucks for a lot of obvious reasons. But a less obvious downside is that this clutter can make genuine emails feel annoying. That’s a serious handicap. The truth is we love email! We love good email. It’s a great way to send you what you’re here for—journalism you don’t find elsewhere. It’s a great way for you to follow the news on your own terms. It’s a great way for us to connect with and learn from you. Sure, there can be too much of even the good stuff, but here’s something marketers like me don’t often say: It’s not like you have to read every single one to find them useful. It’s okay to miss a beat! (More on this in a minute.)
Here’s something even more important that’s not often included in pitches like this: Newsletter subscribers are supremely important to our mission—doing investigative journalism that can be put to use fighting for change—and to our bottom line in a simple dollars and cents way. Signing up is a free and fantastic way to help strengthen Mother Jones against the huge challenges facing journalism right now. It truly is.
- It gives us a reliable way to reach readers, and when you forward our articles and share them on whatever platform you choose, it helps that circle grow. Few things are as important for a newsroom as reach and growth. Newsletters are the best way to reach folks regularly, without an algorithm, and recommendations from trusted friends are the best way for a newsroom like us to grow—we ain’t exactly putting ads up in Times Square.
- It increases our share of regular readers, people who make it a habit to check out Mother Jones—which is right up there with reach and growth in importance to our operation. Fly-by readers who might see one story and never come back do not form a stable foundation for any publication. A strong, core base of readers does—and growing it in a big way is a game-changer. Funders and advertisers literally judge us by the size and activity of our email list.
- You’re a fantastic sounding board. We learn so much processing the news with you and understanding what’s important for us to focus on. And that back and forth with readers is going to be important for making it through the significant challenges our field, and our democracy, is facing and will continue to face in the years ahead.
- This one is increasingly vital: When you get our newsletter, it’s harder for a big tech company to mess with the information you see (like Facebook has). Plus, the way we’re able to reach you is less likely to wither on the vine as platforms and preferences come and go. Sign up, not only for the great reporting you’ll get, but also so we can stay directly connected down the road.
- And let’s put our cards on the table: Our email list is the most effective online fundraising channel we have, as well as our most valuable online advertising asset—and we need as much revenue from each as we can possibly get these days. Yeah, you heard that right: I just said that, after a while, we’ll send you fundraising emails and emails from other nonprofits and cause-minded businesses that want to reach Mother Jones readers like you. We won’t hide from it. It’s part of being a truly independent newsroom, so we hope you understand—and once you sign up and start getting them, you can manage your preferences to opt out of either. But we’ve found that readers don’t complain too much—because we aim to make the emails good and relevant, and because they’re vital to our financial health.
Those are the big things we get out of it, and I hope you find it somewhat interesting since it’s not really something marketers talk about, amid all the short and simple “get our best reporting straight to your inbox” pitches. Maybe you’re ready to sign up?
Either way, let’s go over what YOU get out of it and finish with some examples and rave reviews from readers.
A bit about us if you’re not familiar with our history: Mother Jones is a reader-supported nonprofit, because even back when we got started as a scrappy magazine, in 1976, it was clear that corporations and the mega-wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of investigative journalism we set out to do. Our mission is to do investigative journalism that can help advance democracy and justice.
We have values. We go where others in the media don’t, like getting a job at a private prison to investigate what happens inside private prisons. We spend months or years looking at the forces behind the headlines, like how private equity is looting America. We get out ahead of the big stories, focus on underreported beats, and stick with them. You can poke around our FAQ (and ask us any questions there) if you’d like.
We also cover much of the daily grind, though always from a different perspective, with a fact-based and fiery voice. And it all gets packaged up and sent to you in our Mother Jones Daily newsletter, which is written and contextualized by actual journalists who like doing it for you.
The value proposition? The Mother Jones Daily newsletter is a trusted source that makes it easy to cut through the noise and know what stories really matter—and get ahead of things with in-depth reporting and deep dives that are too rare in today’s media landscape. Sign up?
That’s not just my marketing mumbo jumbo. It’s what readers told us they value most about our newsletter in a recent survey: “Knowing what stories matter,” “in-depth original reporting,” “stories I don’t find elsewhere.”
As such, our newsletters and stories have a shelf life beyond the day’s headlines—so if you want to stay abreast of our big projects and investigations that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle, sign up for our Daily today and you can read it on your own terms. It could even be an aspirational subscription—something you know is worth reading and you’ll get to it eventually, like the stack of New Yorkers on my living room table. I love it when I finally sit down with one! Likewise, a lot of readers say our newsletter helps round out their news intake—a few local, a few mainstream sources, and let’s see what Mother Jones has to say.
Here are a handful of examples from our Daily newsletter that I’ve found memorable so you can see what you’re signing up for—I don’t blame you for not just forking over your email to anyone these days. I’m a hard sell too.
- Voting rights correspondent Ari Berman on Wisconsin’s hugely consequential Supreme Court election last fall, where he’s been on the beat for a decade.
- Hannah Levintova, who helped spearhead a newsroom-wide investigation into one of the least understood forces in our daily lives, private equity.
- Editor-in-chief Clara Jeffery, describing our huge special reporting project on decarbonization and what it will take to actually transform to a green economy: “Challenging assumptions is part of Mother Jones’ role, and I believe that we’re uniquely positioned to speak truth to friends, as well as to power.”
- Inae Oh, with the case against more cameras in Congress, like C-SPAN’s free reign earlier this year during the House speaker confirmation drama, when so much is performative.
- Arianna Coghill, with a delightful linguistics lesson on African American Vernacular English.
- Abigail Weinberg, who was writing about Trump buying McDonald’s for first responders when she mentioned she was “a huge Mickey D’s fan myself,” which set off a firestorm of replies, prompting her to write about how nobody is perfect and asking readers what their progressive or environmental guilty pleasures are.
- Jeremy Schulman, who was asked to join something called the “Republican Advisory Board” (in one of those manipulative emails we all receive), so he asked Daily readers what advice they’d give the Republican Party right now, and then wrote up a summary of what he heard, good and bad, a few weeks later.
- And one final example from Inae, again, who recently asked Mother Jones Daily readers if she should have a second child and got all kinds of responses that have me eager for her follow-up post. It was so great and so unexpected when I saw the newsletter! Is that an “annoying” email, or is it incredibly authentic and a sign of how much she appreciates writing for and hearing from newsletter readers?
If that great mix of value-additive coverage, deep dives into underreported topics, and a bit of whimsy doesn’t sound good to you, I don’t know that anything will ever convince you to give the Mother Jones Daily a shot.
But maybe hearing straight from its readers will seal the deal? Let’s close this out with an assist from respondents to our survey last fall, who gushed about the Daily:
“A daily dose of sanity.”
“A voice of reason in an otherwise cluttered internet environment.”
“Like chatting with a friend who actually knows what they’re talking about.”
“Integrity, intelligent, in touch, investigative journalism—with humor and hope.”
“My inbox is inundated daily. Mother Jones is one of the few things I tend to regularly check out!”
“I makes me feel I’m not alone, that a lot of what I’m thinking but maybe haven’t really digested, gets put into words I can digest, and not feel so unsettled.”
“What I like most about the Mother Jones Daily is hearing (reading) a voice that expresses the outrage I feel about injustices, which helps me feel validated and less alone.”
“I trust you.”
A newsletter that delivers, well, the news, but is also like chatting with a friend, is something people want to read, and it can make folks feel less alone. That’s something.
And this is the bottom line: It truly is a huge help for us from a business survival perspective, and I know a great many of you will actually like, or love, the Mother Jones Daily if you sign up today. A true win-win, and I hope this long-winded pitch might just pan out because this is about a lot more than just delivering “our best reporting straight to your inbox.”