Mother Knows Best
Many people who had never heard of Mother Jones became aware of the magazine last year when it broke the story of Mitt Romney's "47 percent" speech. The magazine, a paragon of liberal thought now in its 37th year of publication, saw over 9 million page views for the story and video of Romney's comments at a political fundraiser, which became an election-year sensation. In a lesson on how Web traffic spikes can boost social media, the magazine gained 14,000 new Twitter followers and 12,000 new Facebook fans in the wake of the story.
Whatever your politics, it's hard not to admire the energy and influence of the plucky nonprofit, which, with offices in San Francisco, Washington D.C. and New York, produces six print issues a year, a website featuring 24/7 updated content, award-winning investigative journalism, mobile and digital editions, podcasts, a video series, influential blogs and an e-newsletter.
The print magazine reaches 240,000 subscribers and the website averages 4 million visitors a month, both numbers up sharply in recent years. Year-to-year website page views were up 28 percent in 2012, while mobile traffic doubled. Mother Jones saw total ad revenue increase 34 percent in 2012 compared to 2011, with digital ad revenue up 21 percent. Digital ads surpassed print as the primary revenue source in 2010.
CEO Madeleine Buckingham says this type of success tends to build on itself.
“It starts with size,” she says. “Now that we reach more than 4 million readers online each month … that in itself is a compelling reason to garner an advertiser’s interest. But that’s not enough. Our primary selling point to advertisers is the quality of our readership. Our readers are engaged, affluent and well educated. They also happen to care deeply about the environment, they vote, and are active in life and in their community.”