Mother Jones

Publication analysis

About the publication

Title: Mother Jones

ISSN: 0362-8841 (Print) and 2169-7396 (Online)1


Purpose, objective, or mission: America’s longest-established investigative news organization. , Mother Jones “goes deep on the biggest stories of the moment, from politics and crime and justice, to education, climate change, and food.”2

“Our mission is to deliver hard-hitting reporting that inspires change and combats ‘alternative facts’.” 3

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.” 4

Mother Jones has also remained a strong voice for social justice: Racial discrimination, women’s rights, environmental justice, and the plight of immigrant farmworkers are all issues you will find covered in the magazine from its first year of publication to the present. Another major theme over the years has been the bloated American military budget and the way the United States uses its superpower influence overseas.” 5

“Our bias is for the truth, for fairness and justice, for a democracy in which facts matter and all can participate. It’s not a partisan position—we believe these values are bigger than party—but it is a point of view, and we believe journalism should be transparent about its values. We also believe in investigating any story worth digging into, and in rigorously following the facts where they lead; our fact-checking and verification protocol is one of the most extensive in the industry.” 6

Target audience: Readers who are interested in politics, environmental issues, and social justice.

Publisher: The Foundation for National Progress.7

Peer reviewed? No. 8

Type: Civilian news magazine.

Medium: Print and online.

Content: Investigative journalism covering politics, the environment, and culture.9 “We’re interested in just about anything that will raise our readers’ eyebrows, but we focus especially on these areas: national politics, environmental issues, corporate wrongdoing, human rights, and political influence in all spheres.” 10

Frequency of publication: Bimonthly.

About the publication’s submission guidelines

Location of submission guidelines:

Types of contributions accepted: “While much of our content comes from staff writers and freelancers with whom we’ve had long-standing relationships, Mother Jones magazine and will consider solidly reported, hard-hitting, groundbreaking news stories. We’re also open to thought-provoking, timely opinion and analysis pieces on important current issues.” 11

“Our readership is nationwide, so please, no local issues unless they have national interest or implications. At the same time, anything that has already been covered extensively in the major national media will probably not work for us, unless you have some new unique angle. We will look at cultural essays, but not travel pieces. Save yourself and us time and effort by taking a good look at our site and/or the magazine before you send a query.”12

Submission and review process: Freelance writers should submit a query by email. Per their guidelines, “Tell us in no more than a few paragraphs what you plan to cover, why it’s important and interesting, and how you will report it. The query should convey your approach, tone, and style, and should answer the following: What are your specific qualifications for writing on this topic? What ins do you have with your sources? If other major stories have been done on this topic, how will yours be different—and better? Please also include a line or two about your background and two or three of your most relevant clips (links are fine).” 13

Web pieces are generally fewer than 1,500 words. Because we have staff reporters it is extremely rare that we will pay for a piece whose timeliness or other qualities work for the web only. Magazine pieces can range up to 5,000 words. There is at least a two-month lead time.” 14

Editorial tone: Investigative and Informative

Style guide used: No style guide is mentioned.

Conclusion: Evaluation of publication’s potential for LIS authors

Although first-time authors may have a difficult time getting published with Mother Jones, the magazine has a large base of politically-conscious readers, which would provide a wonderful stage for any LIS authors who have a very specific agenda. Since the scope of the publication involves investigative and informative journalism, LIS authors could potentially write about field trends, controversies, and challenges to LIS. For example, here are some recent publications pertinent to LIS:  The Library Worker Whose Bosses Blew Her Off When She Asked Questions, Books Have the Power to Rehabilitate. But Prisons Are Blocking Access to Them, and A Library Straddling the Border is Giving Immigrant Families a Safe Place to Reunite.

Audience analysis

About the publication’s readers

Publication circulation:   “Mother Jones has expanded its audience reach from 600,000 to nearly 14 million readers in the past decade. This includes over 13 million unique online visitors each month and 200,000 print subscribers.” 15

Audience location and language or cultural considerations: Published in the United States.16 Published in English.

Reader characteristics:  “Mother Jones readers are informed about key issues and are concerned about their impact on public life. Interested in many subjects, from politics and social justice to education and the environment, our readers seek news coverage that provides an accurate and nuanced view of the world around them.” 17

Per their media kit, 53% are women, 94% attended college, 80% are homeowners.  “According to recent subscriber studies, Mother Jones readers say/do the following: 98% willing to pay more for high-quality items, 84% consider themselves intellectuals, 84% environmental impact is important when considering a purchase, 80% social responsibility influences how they invest, 73% advise their friends and family on books, music, movies, TV, and other media, 84% willing to pay more for organic food.” 18

“Mother Jones readers are more engaged in public life than most. 83% vote in federal, state, and municipal elections and sign petitions for various causes. 75% of  readers say they were motivated to take an action in the real world as the result of a Mother Jones article.” 19

Knowledge of LIS subject matter: Though it is likely there are a number of LIS professionals that read this publication, the primary audience would not be informed about LIS issues.

Conclusion: Analysis of reader characteristics and their potential impact on authors

Authors need to keep in mind the readers of Mother Jones are well-educated and expect straightforward, thoughtful writing that broadens their knowledge of the world. Readers care about social issues and will most likely be receptive to stories about libraries and library advocacy.

Last updated: October 2, 2020


Show 19 footnotes

  1. Mother Jones.”, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory, accessed October 2, 2020
  2. “What is Mother Jones?”,, accessed September 12, 2018,
  3. “What is Mother Jones?”
  4. “History.”,, accessed October 2, 2020,
  5. “History.”
  6. “FAQ.”,, accessed October 2, 2020,
  7. “What is Mother Jones?”
  8. “Freelance Writer Guidelines.”,, accessed October 15, 2016,
  9. “What is Mother Jones?”
  10. “Freelance Writer Guidelines.”
  11. “Freelance Writer Guidelines.”
  12. “Freelance Writer Guidelines.”
  13. Freelance Writer Guidelines.”
  14. “Freelance Writer Guidelines.”
  15. “Mother Jones Profile.”,, accessed October 2, 2020,
  16. “Contact Us.”, accessed October 15, 2016,
  17. “Media Kit-2020.”,, accessed October 2, 2020,
  18. “Media Kit-2020.”
  19. “Media Kit-2020.”
Comments are closed.