Mother Knows Best
"You are in a dialogue with those readers," says co-Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery. "We get a lot of direct feedback." Social media followers also "sort of become your ambassadors in the world."
Building New Business
Back in 2006, when Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein took over as co-editors-in-chief, Mother Jones was, Jeffery recalls, "a feisty bi-monthly magazine with a very small digital shadow."
"The first thing we did was tear down the walls between print and digital operations," she says. New investment in editorial—helped by a capital campaign—allowed for hiring of more full-time reporters and less reliance on freelancers. New digital investments, including a full site redesign built on the Drupal open-source platform, allowed Mother Jones to match content to its best distribution form, whether print, Web, blog, video or audio. "It used to be that articles would be published in the magazine and maybe find a way into the website," Jeffery says. "But now we think, 'What's the best way to tell a story?'"
Cross-platform thinking has altered Mother Jones' conception of itself. As Buckingham puts it, "We've successfully pivoted from magazine and freelance-dominated, to 24/7 and staff driven; from an emphasis on a polished, final product to a publication style that's iterative and social, without sacrificing our commitment to quality. We're also making good progress toward integrating visual storytelling elements into our reporting."
In addition to building out resources for print, the Web and mobile platforms, Mother Jones has sought partnerships with fellow news providers to increase breadth of coverage and build a bigger digital footprint. The Climate Desk partners Mother Jones with seven other news organizations—The Atlantic, The Guardian, Slate.com, Wired, PBS's "Need to Know," the Center for Investigative Reporting and Grist.org—to bring comprehensive reporting in print and digital on issues related to climate change. Original content is produced weekly and shared with all partners for distribution. With the addition of The Guardian to the network in late 2011, the Climate Desk now has a potential global audience of over 70 million, Buckingham says.