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Mother Jones (magazine)

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Mother Jones
May/June 2010 cover
Editor-in-ChiefClara Jeffery
First issueFebruary 1976; 48 years ago (1976-02)
CountryUnited States
Based inSan Francisco, California, U.S.

Mother Jones (abbreviated MoJo) is a nonprofit American progressive[1][2] magazine that focuses on news, commentary, and investigative journalism on topics including politics, environment, human rights, health and culture. Clara Jeffery serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine. Monika Bauerlein has been the CEO since 2015.[3][4][5] Mother Jones is published by the Foundation for National Progress, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.[6][7]

The magazine was named after Mary Harris Jones, known as Mother Jones, an Irish-American trade union activist, socialist advocate, and ardent opponent of child labor.[8]


For the first five years after its inception in 1976,[6] Mother Jones operated with an editorial board, and members of the board took turns serving as managing editor for one-year terms. People who served on the editorial team during those years included Adam Hochschild, Paul Jacobs, Richard Parker, Deborah Johnson, Jeffrey Bruce Klein, Mark Dowie, Amanda Spake, Zina Klapper, and Deirdre English. According to Hochschild, Parker, "who worked as both editor and publisher, saw to it that Mother Jones took the best of what could be learned from the world of commercial publishing".[9]

Russ Rymer was named editor-in-chief in early 2005, and under his tenure the magazine published more essays and extensive packages of articles on domestic violence (July/August 2005),[10] and the role of religion in politics (December 2005).[11]

In August 2006, Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery were promoted from within to become co-editors of the magazine. Bauerlein and Jeffery, who had served as interim editors between Cohn and Rymer, were also chiefly responsible for some of the biggest successes of the magazine in the past several years, including a package on ExxonMobil's funding of climate-change "deniers" (May/June 2005)[12] that was nominated for a National Magazine Award for Public Interest reporting; a package on the rapid decline in the health of the ocean (March/April 2006),[13] and the magazine's massive Iraq War Timeline interactive database.[14]

As the magazine's first post–baby-boomer editors, Bauerlein and Jeffery used a new investigative team of senior and young reporters to increase original reporting, web-based database tools,[clarification needed] and blog commentary on MotherJones.com. The cover of their first issue (November 2006) asked: "Evolve or Die: Can humans get past denial and deal with global warming?"[15][16] In 2015, Bauerlein became CEO, and Jeffery became sole editor in chief.[5]

David Corn, former Washington editor for The Nation, became bureau chief of the magazine's newly established D.C. bureau in 2007.[17] Other D.C. staff have included Washington Monthly contributing editor Stephanie Mencimer, former Village Voice correspondent James Ridgeway, and Adam Serwer from The American Prospect.

Laurene Powell Jobs has donated to Mother Jones by way of her LLC, Emerson Collective.[18]

In December 2023, Mother Jones announced that it would be combining with The Center for Investigative Reporting.[19] The merger took effect on February 1 2024.[20]


Mother Jones has been a finalist for 31 National Magazine Awards, winning seven times (including three times for General Excellence in 2001, 2008 and 2010).[21]

The Park Center for Independent Media named Mother Jones the winner of the fifth annual Izzy Award in April 2013, for "special achievement in independent media", for its 2012 reporting, including its analysis of gun violence in the United States, coverage of dark money funding of candidates, and release of a video of Mitt Romney stating that 47 percent of the people of the United States see themselves as victims and are dependent on the government.[22]

In August 2013, Mother Jones' co-editors Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery won the PEN/Nora Magid Award for Magazine Editing.[23] Also in 2010, Mother Jones won the Online News Association Award for Online Topical Reporting,[24] and in 2011 won the Utne Reader Independent Press Award for General Excellence.[25]

In 2017, Mother Jones won the Magazine of the Year award from the American Society of Magazine Editors.[26]


In addition to stories from the print magazine, MotherJones.com offers original reported content seven days a week. During the 2008 presidential election campaign, MotherJones.com journalist David Corn was the first to report John McCain's statement that it "would be fine with [him]" if the United States military were stay in Iraq for "maybe a hundred years"—that what should be assessed is not their simple presence but how many casualties are being suffered. McCain said the presence of U.S. forces in South Korea, Japan, Europe, Bosnia and other countries is a “generally accepted policy of America’s multilateralism”.[27] Also in 2008, MotherJones.com was the first outlet to report on Beckett Brown International, a security firm that spied on environmental groups for corporations.[28]

Winner of the 2005 and 2006 "People's Choice" Webby Award for politics,[29] MotherJones.com has provided extensive coverage of both Gulf wars, presidential election campaigns, and other key events of the last decade. Mother Jones began posting its magazine content on the Internet on November 24, 1993, the first general interest magazine in the country to do so.[30][31] In the March/April 1996 issue, the magazine published the first Mother Jones 400, a listing of the largest individual donors to federal political campaigns. The print magazine listed the 400 donors in order with thumbnail profiles and the amount they contributed. MotherJones.com (then known as the MoJo Wire) listed the donors in a searchable database.

In the 2006 election, MotherJones.com was the first to break stories on the use of robocalling,[32] a story that TPM Muckraker and The New York Times picked up. The Iraq War Timeline interactive database,[14] a continually updated interactive online project, was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2006.[33]


Throughout its circulation, Mother Jones magazine has been the subject of criticism regarding the editorial position of the staff,[34] exploitation of interns,[35] misinterpreting data about homeless people,[36] and promotion of values that are perceived to be inconsistent with those of the magazine's namesake, Mother Jones.[37][38][39]

Michael Moore, who had owned and published the Flint, Michigan-based Michigan Voice for ten years, followed English and edited Mother Jones for several months, until he was fired for disputed reasons. Matt Labash of The Weekly Standard reported this was for refusing to print an article that was critical of the Sandinista human rights record in Nicaragua[40]—a view supported by The Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn, but denied by Hochschild and others at the magazine.[41][42] Moore believes that he was fired because of his defiant reaction to the publisher's refusal to allow him to cover a story on the GM plant closings in Flint.[43] Moore also felt that he did not have a chance to shape the magazine, and that many of the articles that were printed during his time as editor were articles that had already been commissioned by Deirdre English. After being fired in 1986, Moore sued Mother Jones for $2 million for wrongful termination,[44] but settled with the magazine's insurance company for $58,000[45]—$8000 more than the initial offering.

In December 2013, Mother Jones was criticized for its labor practices regarding the employment of interns, as part of the Ben Bagdikian Fellowship Program. The program allowed college students to enroll as "fellows" who would receive a monthly stipend of $1,000 while working for the magazine in San Francisco. Writer Charles Davis of Vice criticized this practice as exploitative noting that "a fellow [working] at Mother Jones earns less than $6 an hour in a state, California, that just decided to raise the minimum wage to $10." Following the publication of the article, Mother Jones announced that it would reform its budget to provide fellows with equivalent to California's minimum wage. According to Davis, a former intern alleged that they were advised by the company's human resources department to register for food stamps.[46]

The magazine was subject of controversy regarding an October 2016 article about white supremacist figure Richard B. Spencer titled, "Meet the Dapper White Nationalist Riding the Trump Wave", which was interpreted as presenting Spencer in a positive light in contrast to his promotion of violent, racialist views.[47] In response to the controversy, Mother Jones deleted a tweet promoting the article, in addition to removing the word "dapper" from the title of the article.[48] The 2017 video game Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus featured a newspaper article entitled "Meet The Dapper Young KKK Leader With A Message Of Hope". Video game website Kotaku said the addition was "clearly a shot at Mother Jones and any other media outlet who decides to start getting cutesy about white supremacy".[49] In 2022, journalist and media critic Jesse Singal defended the story as a valuable example of investigative journalism and characterized its critics as misinformed, writing that "it's almost impossible to imagine any reasonable reader confusing it for a puff piece." Singal cited the social media response to the article as an example of what he saw as an increasing problem of slander against journalists, concluding that "the Twitter gauntlet consistently destroys good journalism."[50]

In August 2017, journalist and Mother Jones contributor Glenn Greenwald criticized an article published by the magazine titled "Are People Disgusted By the Homeless?" by Kevin Drum, which Greenwald asserts uses dehumanizing stereotypes of homeless people.[36] Kevin Drum would again be a subject of controversy in July 2019, when Naomi Lachance of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting criticized Drum's handling of the Wayfair Walkout in a blog post titled "I Don't Understand the Wayfair Walkout".[51] The Wayfair Walkout was a planned protest action taken by workers and employees of the furniture company to express their opposition to the companies contracting with ICE and other government agencies involved in detainment of suspected undocumented immigrants.[52][53] In response to news of the walkout, Drum wrote, "But isn't our whole complaint that these kids are being treated badly? Shouldn't we want companies to sell the government toothpaste and soap and beds and so forth? What am I missing here?"[54] In response to these comments, Lachance wrote "In a cruel and violent world, full of exponentially increasing climate change, natural disasters, food shortages and wars, people cross borders in search of a place where they have a sliver of a chance to survive. That determination for life should be celebrated, not criminalized. Drum has an attitude toward immigrants that is xenophobic and deeply embarrassing for Mother Jones."[55]

In late 2017, journalist and columnist David Corn was accused of workplace sexual harassment by former staffers who alleged the columnist of engaging "...in inappropriate workplace behavior, including unwanted touching and rape jokes".[56] These allegations were published in numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Daily Beast[57] and Politico.[58] Mother Jones conducted an internal investigation of the accusations, concluding that there was no evidence of misconduct.[56]


  1. ^ Roth, Zachary (3 October 2007). "Mother Jones Lures David Corn From The Nation". Observer. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  2. ^ Dagnes, Alison (2019). "Negative Objectives: The Right-Wing Media Circle and Everyone else". In Dagnes, Alison (ed.). Super Mad at Everything All the Time. Springer International Publishing. p. 178. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-06131-9_5. ISBN 9783030061319. S2CID 156032120. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  3. ^ "Here Are The 5 Most Liberal And Conservative Media Twitter Feeds". Business Insider. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  4. ^ "Mother Jones Lures David Corn From The Nation". The New York Observer. 2007-10-03. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  5. ^ a b "Mother Jones names Monika Bauerlein Chief Executive Officer; Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief". Mother Jones. Archived from the original on 2015-05-14. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
  6. ^ a b Jones, Mother (November 1992). "Mother Jones Magazine". Mother Jones: 3. ISSN 0362-8841. Retrieved November 23, 2015.
  7. ^ "Foundation for National Progress". MacArthur Foundation. Archived from the original on 2023-03-22. Retrieved 2023-12-19.
  8. ^ ""Mother" Mary Harris Jones biography". Archived from the original on 2011-08-12. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
  9. ^ Hochschild, Adam. "The History of Mother Jones". Retrieved October 19, 2012.
  10. ^ "Domestic Violence: A Special Report". Mother Jones. July 2005. Retrieved November 4, 2008.
  11. ^ "Contents". Mother Jones. December 2005. Retrieved November 4, 2008.
  12. ^ "As The World Burns". Mother Jones. May 2005. Retrieved November 4, 2008.
  13. ^ "The Last Days of the Ocean". Mother Jones. March 2006. Retrieved November 4, 2008.
  14. ^ a b "Lie By Lie". Mother Jones. Retrieved November 4, 2008.
  15. ^ "Mother Jones November/December 2006 Issue". Mother Jones. Retrieved November 4, 2008.
  16. ^ "Editors' Note". Mother Jones. November–December 2006. Retrieved November 4, 2008.
  17. ^ "Mother Jones Lures David Corn From The Nation". The New York Observer. October 2, 2007. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved November 4, 2008.
  18. ^ Sarah McBride; Gerry Smith (25 April 2019). "Billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs Turned Her LLC Into a VC Machine". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 29 April 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2020. Powell Jobs has said she finds the demise of local news particularly troubling. That concern prompted Emerson to not just take stakes in media organizations but to donate to nonprofits like the Marshall Project, Mother Jones
  19. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (February 28, 2024). "Center for Public Integrity Weighs Merger or Shutdown Amid Dire Financial Straits". New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2024.
  20. ^ "Merger of Mother Jones, The Center for Investigative Reporting Is Official". Mother Jones. Retrieved 23 May 2024.
  21. ^ "National Magazine Awards searchable database". Archived from the original on October 10, 2018. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  22. ^ Maley, David (7 March 2013). "Mother Jones Wins Izzy Award for Independent Media". Ithaca College. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  23. ^ "2013 PEN/Nora Magid Award". PEN America. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-09-10.
  24. ^ "2010 Awards". Online News Association. 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  25. ^ "Mother Jones Wins Izzy Award for Independent Media". Utne Reader. 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  26. ^ "Mother Jones wins the highest honor in the magazine industr y". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  27. ^ David Corn (January 2008). "MotherJones Blog: McCain in NH: Would Be "Fine" To Keep Troops in Iraq for "A Hundred Years"". Mother Jones. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  28. ^ "Exclusive: Cops and Former Secret Service Agents Ran Black Ops on Green Groups". Mother Jones. April 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  29. ^ 10th Annual Webby Awards Nominees & Winners Archived April 12, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, 9th Annual Webby Awards Nominees & Winners Archived January 24, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Richard R. Lingeman (2008). The Nation Guide to the Nation. Vintage Books. pp. 121–. ISBN 978-0-307-38728-8.
  31. ^ "What's New, November 1993". www.desy.de. Retrieved 2023-11-24.
  32. ^ "Tales of a Push Pollster". Mother Jones. October 2006. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  33. ^ "Mother Jones: MPA". Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  34. ^ "The Woke Fence - Mother Jones Endorses a Neoliberal Vision of Trump's Border Wall". pastemagazine.com. 24 April 2017. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  35. ^ Abad-Santos, Alexander (2 December 2013). "Mother Jones Reportedly Told Its Interns to Go on Food Stamps Because It Pays So Little". The Atlantic. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  36. ^ a b Greenwald, Glenn (1 August 2017). "Scholars Say Mother Jones Distorted Their Research for Anti-Homeless Article". The Intercept. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  37. ^ Scully, Michael Andrew (Fall 1978). "Would Mother Jones Buy "Mother Jones"?" (PDF). The Public Interest Quarterly: 100–108.
  38. ^ "What would Mother Jones do? Probably not bash idealistic young leftists". Salon. 2016-09-16. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  39. ^ "Mother Jones' Legacy Is Haunting Mother Jones as the Magazine Embraces Neoliberalism". pastemagazine.com. 21 December 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  40. ^ Schultz, Emily (2005). Michael Moore: a biography. ECW Press. pp. 47–54. ISBN 1-55022-699-1.
  41. ^ Cockburn, Alexander (September 13, 1986). "Beat the Devil". The Nation. New York, New York: The Nation Company L.P.: 198. ISSN 0027-8378.
  42. ^ Hochschild, Adam; Hazen, Don; Cockburn Alexander; et al. (1986-10-04). "Letters". The Nation. New York, New York: The Nation Company L.P.: 298, 323–324. ISSN 0027-8378.
  43. ^ Matt Labash. Michael Moore, One-Trick Phony. The Weekly Standard. June 8, 1998.
  44. ^ Jones, Alex S. (1986-09-27). "Radical Magazine Removes Editor, Setting Off A Widening Political Debate". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  45. ^ DiMare, Philip C. (2011-06-17). Movies in American History: An Encyclopedia [3 volumes]: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781598842975.
  46. ^ Davis, Charles (2 December 2013). "The Exploited Laborers of the Liberal Media". Vice.com. Vice. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  47. ^ "Please don't make Nazis the new fashion darlings of D.C." The New Republic. 2016-11-21. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  48. ^ Pearce, Matt (2016-11-29). "The 'alt-right' splinters as supporters and critics agree it was white supremacy all along". LA Times. Retrieved 2019-08-08. Readers denounced news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, for not portraying Spencer and his supporters in a harsher light. The left-wing investigative magazine Mother Jones, which ran a deep profile of Spencer in October, was criticized for titling its piece, "Meet the Dapper White Nationalist Who Wins Even if Trump Loses." The word "dapper" was soon removed from the headline.
  49. ^ Gach, Ethan (October 30, 2017). "Wolfenstein 2 Collectible Mocks Progressive Magazine Over Its Coverage Of White Nationalists". Kotaku. Archived from the original on October 30, 2017. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  50. ^ Singal, Jesse (September 30, 2022). "It Isn't Journalism's Job To Hand Hold People To The Correct Moral Conclusions". Singal-Minded. Archived from the original on March 20, 2023. Retrieved October 27, 2023.
  51. ^ Drum, Kevin (2000). "Are people disgusted by the homeless?". Motherjones.com. Mother Jones. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  52. ^ Spellings, Sarah (27 June 2019). "What Happens After the Wayfair Walkout". The Cut. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  53. ^ Gee, Alastair (2017-07-18). "Journalist under fire for calling it 'crazy' not to be disgusted by homeless people". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  54. ^ Drum, Kevin. "I don't understand the Wayfair walkout". Mother Jones. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  55. ^ Lachance, Naomi (23 July 2019). "Mother Jones Is Failing Its Namesake". fair.org. FAIR. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  56. ^ a b North, Anna (2017-12-22). "David Corn, Mother Jones DC Bureau Chief, sexual misconduct allegations". Vox.com. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  57. ^ Crocker, Lizzie (2017-11-04). "Men Need to Change, and Women Need to Change With Them". Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  58. ^ Calderone, Michael. "David Corn investigated for inappropriate workplace behavior". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-08-08.

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