Mother Knows Best
To expand further the reach of its coverage, Mother Jones runs the Climate Desk Live briefing series—a series of video profiles of important figures and issues in climate change—and is looking to establish new distribution and media partner relationships, as well as expand into social media platforms like Reddit, Pinterest and Socialcam.
When it comes to building audiences, though, there's nothing quite like a well-timed viral smash. In addition to the social media boost enjoyed by Mother Jones after the "47 percent" story, the magazine saw a spike in print and e-newsletter subscriptions in September 2012—up 400 percent and 300 percent, respectively—compared to September 2011. September was also the best month ever for online low-dollar donations to the Foundation For National Progress, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that publishes Mother Jones, and over all, the digital fundraising program saw a 53 percent increase in donations in FY2012 compared to 2011.
Despite its impact, the magazine does not see the Romney scoop as an isolated fluke. "I think it's fair to say that some time ago we could not have broken a story like this in this way," Monika Bauerlein said in a Mother Jones-produced video. " … [W]e wouldn't have had the reporting staff in place, but just as importantly, we wouldn't have had the distribution capability in place. We made a strategic decision to really become a player in the news cycle."
Buckingham sees the "47 percent" story in the context of a year in which in-depth investigative reporting of everything from the election to the Occupy movement to the Trayvon Martin killing put Mother Jones firmly on the national radar.
"[O]ur success in 2012 was not simply a function of the "47% windfall," Buckingham says. "We did indeed catch lightning in a bottle back in September. But, by way of comparison, in December 2012, we also saw the second-best single-month [donation] total in our history."