Mother Knows Best
Quality readers are attracted to quality content. Mother Jones has invested heavily in recent years in editorial resources, including opening a Washington D.C. bureau in 2006 that has grown from two editors and reporters to 12.
“Full-time staff reporters give us the flexibility and firepower to participate both in the 24/7 news cycle and the ability to ‘go deep’ on team-based investigative packages,” Buckingham says. “… Journalism is always at the center of our thinking, and we aspire to be known as the leading source for high quality investigative journalism that’s independent, intelligent, passionate and creative.”
The magazine has won a case full of awards, including two National Magazine Awards (“Ellies”) for general excellence in 2008 and 2010, the 2012 Data Journalism Award and merit awards from the Society of Publication Designers. Its latest laurel is the Izzy Award, presented by the Park Center for Independent Media, honoring excellence in journalism "created outside traditional corporate structures."
Buckingham sees print and digital as playing distinct roles in the success of Mother Jones. In addition to being well-suited to long-form narrative and photojournalism, print, she says, "boosts our credibility and impact within the media, political and donor worlds, and distinguishes us from online-only publications." Print also generates a subscriber list which she describes as the nonprofit's greatest business asset.
Digital, on the other hand, is all about engagement. Being inserted into the 24/7 news cycle and social media conversation, Mother Jones can reach audiences in unprecedented ways and "develop internal tools that foster smart choices about which technologies serve Mother Jones and our audiences best," Buckingham says.
Right now, Twitter is proving the magazine's most effective social media tool (though reporters and editors are also active on Facebook). Reporting on the ground in Louisiana after the BP oil spill, Mother Jones reporters sent out live updates to thousands of followers, and in return, were offered boat rides and places to stay, as well as tips and new story angles.