Mother Jones is a digital-first magazine focused on politics, current events, and investigative reporting. The most prominent themes on its website include "Politics", "Environment", "Crime/Justice", "Food", and "Media". According to the publication's website, "Mother Jones’ founders envisioned a magazine devoted to a new brand of socially conscious journalism— one that took on corporate as well as political power. Twenty-five years later, that mission remains as timely as ever."
- 1 Reach
- 2 History
- 3 Undercover Investigation of Private Prison
- 4 Romney "47%" video
- 5 Coverage of Tobacco Issues
- 6 Personnel
- 7 Board of Directors
- 8 Business Model
- 9 Core Financials
- 10 Publications
- 11 Criticism
- 12 Contact
- 13 Resources and articles
According to the publication, Mother Jones reaches "more than 10 million people each month via our website, social-media presence, videos, podcasts, email newsletters, and print magazine." As of December 2019, Mother Jones had over 46,000 individual donors and over 190,000 print magazine subscribers. As of this same time, the publication's Twitter account had over 800,000 followers and its Facebook page had close to 1,500,000 followers.
Mother Jones was founded in 1976. Adam Hochschild, one of its founders, recalled how the Watergate scandal in 1974 emboldened him and other political writers, saying: "when Richard Nixon resigned in August of that year, investigative journalism had changed the course of history. For anyone who believed in the power of the printed word, it was an exhilarating moment." He also mentioned the original goal of the magazine to investigate and hold accountable "the great unelected power wielders of our time— multinational corporations."
In his recounting of the history of Mother Jones, Hochschild also named some the publication's most important early investigations and their impact on the world. These pieces included a 1977 exposé of Ford's negligence to address its fatality-prone Pinto car and a 1979 series on "'dumping'— the unloading on Third World countries of pesticides, medicines, and other products banned in the United States as unsafe."
Undercover Investigation of Private Prison
Beginning in December 2014, Mother Jones Senior Reporter Shane Bauer worked undercover for four months as a correctional officer in Winn Correctional Center, a private prison in Louisiana. Winn was run by the Correctional Corporation of America (now called CoreCivic) during the tenure of Bauer's investigation.
In the July/August 2016 issue of Mother Jones, Bauer released a lengthy, five-part exposé detailing his time at the prison. In this piece and an accompanying video series, Bauer shared his experience of everyday life as a correctional officer in a private prison.
Bauer described how CCA only paid guards a nine or ten dollar per hour starting salary, and the lack of a living wage led to an understaffed prison, which enabled violence, a feeling of general unsafety, and a high guard turnover rate. At one point during his time working at the prison, an inmate escapes, and no one noticed for a few hours because, although he fled "in view of the guard towers... they’ve been unmanned since at least 2010."
Bauer also mentioned the lack of adequate mental and physical health care for inmates, noting "In the entire prison of more than 1,500 inmates, there are no full-time psychiatrists and just one full-time social worker." One inmate received no medical attention despite repeated requests and lost his fingers and legs to untreated gangrene. Additionally, Bauer found out "At least 15 doctors at Winn have been sued for delivering poor medical care. The prison hired several of them even after the state had disciplined them for misconduct."
In August 2016, shortly after Bauer's story broke, the Department of Justice announced it would stop contracting with private prison companies. Mother Jones noted how Bauer's investigation and others like it were corroborated by an August 2016 federal report, resulting in a critical mass of evidence against private prisons.
Romney "47%" video
During the 2012 presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Mother Jones was the first major media outlet to release the video footage of Romney's infamous "47%" comments. At a private fundraiser, Romney had responded to a question about reliance on government by saying "'There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president [Obama] no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it— that that’s an entitlement.'"
In a Fox News postmortem interview of his 2012 campaign, Romney said about the comment: "It's not what I meant. I didn't express myself as I wished I would have" but admitted, "There's no question that hurt and did real damage to my campaign."
Mother Jones's Washington D.C. Bureau Chief David Corn described his initial reaction to the video of Romney's comments, saying "With conviction and passion, Romney had described the election as a face-off between the strivers (people like himself and the other 1-percenters in the room) and the parasitic hordes who sought to live off the hard work of the accomplished."
Coverage of Tobacco Issues
Mother Jones has a long history of investigative journalism and publication of stinging expose's on tobacco issues. In July, 1979, the magazine published an article titled "Cigarettes & Sofas: How the Tobacco Lobby Keeps the Home Fires Burning" about the extent of cigarette-caused fires in the U.S., and the push for self-extinguishing cigarettes. In 1979, Mother Jones published an article titled, "Shoot Out in Marlboro Country," that described Philip Morris' efforts to censor the documentary "Death in the West," in which real-life cowboys who were dying of smoking-induced illnesses, and their doctors were interviewed.
In 1996, Mother Jones published an article on tobacco politics and the tobacco industry's ties to the Republican party.
As of November 2019:
- Monika Bauerlein, chief executive officer
- Clara Jerrery, editor-in-chief
- Steven Katz, publisher
- Becca Andrews, assistant news editor
- Kiera Butler, senior editor
- Tommy Craggs, enterprise editor
- Ben Dreyfuss, editorial director for growth and strategy
- Mark Follman, national affairs editor
- Dave Gilson, deputy editor (magazine)
- Ian Gordon, editorial director for teams and coverage
- Clint Hendler, senior editor
- Daniel King, copy editor
- Nina Liss-Schultz, managing editor
- Michael Mechanic, senior editor
- Daniel Moattar, research editor
- Jackie Flynn Mogensen, assistant editor
- Mark Murrmann, photo editor
- Maddie Oatman, story editor
- Inae Oh, news and engagement editor
- Jeremy Schulman, senior news editor
- Amanda Silverman, editorial director (newsroom)
- James West, deputy editor
- Shane Bauer, senior reporter
- Ari Berman, senior reporter
- Ari Breland, reporter on internet disinformation
- Kevin Drum, political blogger
- Fernanda Echavarri, immigration reporter
- Marilee Enge, development officer
- Dan Friedman, reporter, foreign influence and national security
- Mark Helenowski, inaugural resident documentary filmmarker
- Jamilah King, race and justice reporter
- Julie Lurie, senior reporter
- Samantha Michaels, criminal justice reporter
- Tim Murphy, senior reporter
- Madison Pauly, reporter on sexual violence, criminal justice, and gender
- Tom Philpott, food and agriculture correspondent
- Sinduja Rangarajan, senior data journalist
- Edwin Rios, reporter
- AJ Vicens, reporter
Digital Media Fellows
- Molly Schwartz
- Sam Van Pykeren
- Abigail Weinberg
- Justin Agrelo
- Matt Cohen
- Marisa Endicott
- Delilah Friedler
- Nuria Marquez Martinez
- Will Peischel
- Jacob Rosenberg
- Laura Thompson
- Jessica Washington
Washington, D.C. bureau
- Nathalie Baptiste
- Russ Choma, money in politics
- David Corn
- Noah Lanard
- Rebecca Leber
- Hannah Levintova
- Pema Levy
- Stephanie Mencimer, senior reporter
- Dan Spinelli, national security
- Kara Voght
- Daniel Schulman, deputy bureau chief
- Marianna Szegedy-Maszak, editorial operations director
- Patrick Caldwell, news editor
- Aaron Wiener, senior editor
- Bill Arnold, director of human resources
- Cathy Asmus, development systems and marketing manager
- Bridget Botelho, director of communications strategy
- Ben Breedlove, web developer
- Khary Brown, vice president of media sales
- Madeleine Buckingham, special business adviser (formerly CEO)
- Teri Carhart, director of leadership gifts
- Jon Comas, revenue operations manager
- Dylan DiSalvio, business operations manager
- Beth Eisenstaedt, regional development director
- Alyson Fudge, AP/AR coordinator
- Joseph Gamino, San Francisco office manager/human resources generalist
- Mitchel Grummon, chief financial officer
- Erica Gulseth, advancement officer
- Venu Guputa, regional development director
- Brian Hiatt, marketing and membership director
- Young Kim, online systems coordinator
- Susanne Larsen, development researcher
- Jamie Maloney, advertising sales representative
- Chére Menard, financial
- Liliana Miramontes, event coordinator
- Grace Molteni, designer
- Amy Norquist, regional director of development
- Brenden O'Hanlon, director of sales
- Carolyn Perot, art director
- Cathy Rodgers, business operations specialist
- Adam Schweigert, director of user experience
- Dru Sefton, office manager
- Julia Smith, web developer
- Claudia Smukler, production director
- Michelle Reyes, controller
- Adam Vieyra, digital art director
- Khyley Villaneuva, office assistant
- Robert Wise, online technology director
- Lynnea Woll, senior staff accountant
Board of Directors
As of December 2019: 
- Phil Straus, Chair
- Monika Bauerlein, President
- Clara Jeffery, Vice President
- Steven Katz, Vice President
- Sara Frankel, Secretary
- Nathalie Baptiste, Staff Representative
- Harriet Barlow
- Bridget Botelho, Staff Representative
- Jane Butcher
- Bích Ngọc Cao
- Diane Filippi
- Linda W. Gruber
- Stephen Hendrickson
- Adam Hochschild
- Richard Melcer
- Carolyn Mugar
- Ken Pelletier
- Natalie Schreyer
- Rinku Sen
- Judy Wise
As of November 2019, Mother Jones has operated under a hybrid business model with its revenue coming 68% from reader support, 13% from advertising, and 18% from foundations.
Mother Jones includes the most recent IRS 990s forms of its supporting nonprofit, Foundation for National Progress, on its website.
In 2016, CEO Monika Bauerlein revealed that an undercover investigation of private prisons had cost the publication over $350,000, while banner ads on the page had only netted around $5,000. Noting the failure of ad revenue and fundraising to consistently produce revenue for Mother Jones, Bauerlein proposed a new model: recurring monthly donations.
In a later interview, Bauerlein predicted that an increasing number of journalistic organizations would rely on crowdfunding efforts and sustaining donations for funding. She noted, "'You see that now with newspapers like the [New York Times] saying, "Support the mission of the Times." It’s no longer "Buy this newspaper."'"
- Total Revenue: $16,863,854
- Total Expenses: $16,750,183
- Net Assets: $894,034
- Total Revenue: $16,840,634
- Total Expenses: $16,217,905
- Net Assets: $780,363
- Total Revenue: $16,538,250
- Total Expenses: $13,687,855
- Net Assets: $157,634
- Adam Hochschild, Mother Jones: The First 25 Years, Mother Jones, May/June 2001.
- Tim Arango, "Mother Jones Tests Nonprofit Model in Race to Survive the Recession", New York Times, March 7, 2009.
- Glenn Greenwald, "Scholars Say Mother Jones Distorted Their Research for Anti-Homeless Article", Intercept, August 1, 2017, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Shane Ryan, "Mother Jones, Nominally Liberal Outlet, on Health Care Costs: 'Deal With It', Paste, May 24, 2017, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Naomi LaChance, "Mother Jones' Legacy Is Haunting Mother Jones as the Magazine Embraces Neoliberalism", Paste, December 21, 2016, accessed December 13, 2019.</ref>
- April Siese, "Mother Jones roasted for ‘dapper white nationalist’ description of racists", Daily Dot, November 21, 2016, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Charles Davis,"The exploited laborers of the liberal media", Vice magazine, December 2, 2013.
- John Stauber, The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats, March 15, 2013, CounterPunch.
- Michael Barker, "Mother Jones And The Defence Of Liberal Elites", Swans Commentary, April 19, 2010.
- Alex S. Jones, "Radical Magazine Removes Editor, Setting of a Widening Political Debate" New York Times, September 27, 1986, accessed December 13, 2019.
Resources and articles
IRS Form 990 Filings
- Mother Jones, Financials, publication website, accessed November 24, 2019.
- Mother Jones, Mother Jones Homepage, publication website, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Mother Jones, About, publication website, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Mother Jones, About, publication website, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Mark Dowie, "Pinto Madness", Mother Jones, September/October 1977 issue, accessed December 16, 2019.
- Mark Dowie, "The Corporate Crime of the Century, Mother Jones, November/December 1979 issue, accessed December 16, 2019.
- Mother Jones, "My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard: A Mother Jones Exclusive Six-Part Series", Mother Jones YouTube channel, June 23, 2016, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Shane Bauer, "My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard", Mother Jones, July/August 2016, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Pema Levy, "Justice Department Plans to Stop Using Private Prisons", Mother Jones, August 18, 2016, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Madison Pauly, "A Damning Federal Report Just Confirmed Our Worst Fears About Private Prisons", Mother Jones, August 12, 2016, accessed December 13, 2019.
- David Corn, "The Story Behind the 47 Percent Video", Mother Jones, December 31, 2012, accessed December 16, 2019.
- Thomas M. Defrank, "ANALYSIS: Mitt Romney's comment that 47% of Americans are government freeloaders is the worst blunder in a campaign marred by missteps", New York Daily News, September 18, 2012, accessed December 16, 2019.
- Emma Margolin, "Romney’s 47% comment named quote of the year", MSNBC, December 10, 2012, accessed December 16, 2019.
- Fox News, "Romney relays disappointment over loss, admits mistakes, in first sitdown since 2012 election", Fox News, March 13, 2013, accessed December 16, 2019.
- Chris Cillizza, "Why Mitt Romney’s '47 percent comment was so bad", Washington Post, March 4, 2013, accessed December 16, 2019.
- Becky O'Malley, "Cigarettes & Sofas: How the Tobacco Lobby Keeps the Home Fires Burning", Mother Jones, July 1979, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Mother Jones, "Shoot Out in Marlboro Country", Mother Jones, December 16, 1996, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Mother Jones, "Press Release: Mother Jones Publishes Broad Expose of Tobacco Politics", Mother Jones, April 17, 1996, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Mother Jones, Our Staff, publication website, accessed November 24, 2019.
- Mother Jones, Board of Directors, publication website, accessed December 29, 2010.
- Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, "This Is What’s Missing From Journalism Right Now", Mother Jones, August 17, 2016, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Molly Boigon, "Journalism Needs A New Business Model, And "Mother Jones" May Have Found It", WGBH News, June 2, 2017, accessed December 13, 2019.
- Foundation for National Progress, 2018 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed November 24, 2019.
- Foundation for National Progress, 2017 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed November 24, 2019.
- Foundation for National Progress, 2016 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed November 24, 2019.