2014 General Excellence in Online Journalism, Medium Newsroom finalist


About the Project

Mother Jones produces in-depth investigative reporting and up-to-the-minute news coverage, smart, fearless journalism that is a unique blend of public interest spirit and innovative craft. From its roots as a bimonthly print magazine, Mother Jones today is a multi-platform innovative news outlet where digital and interactive journalism take center stage. The vast majority of the award-winning news shop’s content is published exclusively online, from daily reporting and commentary across a number of beats to interactive and data-driven projects, as well as breaking news scoops, photojournalism, video, and more. The PEN American Center recognized Mother Jones’s digital evolution and expanded online footprint lauding our “increasingly influential website, whose writers and reporters often put more well-known and deep-pocketed news divisions to shame.”

Mother Jones sees digital platforms as a way to elevate, not just showcase, it’s in-depth investigative work. Case in point: Our deep analysis of the Pentagon’s budget excesses offers up a combination of text, charts, and graphics that clearly and cleverly illustrated where the billions of defense dollars go, including the Pentagon’s annual shopping list of everything from explosives to eggs, and a breakdown of what a new F-35 fighter would cost—in cupcakes. The creative presentation caught the attention of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who cited our investigation on the Senate floor just days after it published.

Digital tools also allow Mother Jones to build out original reporting in real time, for all to use. Building on its groundbreaking coverage of gun violence (including creating the first-ever database of mass shootings in America), our interactives team undertook an exhaustive analysis, scouring news reports to generate a comprehensive picture of the effects of guns on children in America. All of the data—including information about the victims and the circumstances of their deaths—was made publicly available for others to use. The special report was published as part of a larger project titled “Newtown: One Year After,” that included investigations revealing how gun manufacturers had marketed their weapons to children and analysis of how state gun laws had changed one year after the worst mass shooting in American history. Mother Jones built a range of open source tools—including a quiz generator and a choose-your-own-adventure game maker—through our Github page that other journalists are using.

MoJo goes deep, builds tools that engage and further the debate, and we also try to make complicated news fun and transparent. In the midst of an ongoing debate about income inequality and the minimum wage, our interactive team built rich visuals and interactives simplifying both rhetoric and wonk. We created charts that depicted the long-term value of unemployment benefits and calculators that allowed readers to see what it would be like if their income grew as quickly as that of the “1 percent” and if they earned a wage similar to a fast food worker. See : “9 Surprising Foods With More Sugar Than a Krispy Kreme Doughnut” (tl;dr: 1 Odwalla beverage = 5 Krispy Kremes) and California drought charts showing the amount of water required to grow the nation’s produce (5.4 gallons per head of broccoli).

Also check out our interactive maps aiming to better illustrate headlines of the day—our marriage equality map that requires constant updating, mapping coordinates of dangerous chemical plants, and a graphic map breaking down marijuana laws across the states. We also brought the photojournalism that our magazine is known for to life. Our photo-essay “It Was Kind of Like Slavery,” used full-width images, video, and audio, to tell the nightmarish stories of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Florida, and “This Newsman Ink That Runs Through My Veins” used a similar approach to trace photographer Will Steacy’s journalistic lineage from the shuttering of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s “Tower of Truth” to his great-great-great grandfather’s founding of a newspaper in 1876.

We also launched a podcast, Inquiring Minds, that has published weekly shows exploring where science, society, and politics collide. Podcast interviews have ranged from actor/activist Mark Ruffalo to Neil deGrasse Tyson to astronaut Marsha Ivins, and the show has generated over a million downloads to date.

Mother Jones is reaching more readers than ever online, to the tune of 7.2 million in May, a 60 percent increase over the previous year. With a solid social media audience—MoJo’s stable of Facebook followers grew by 495 percent since the start of 2013—Mother Jones journalism is smart, fearless, and fiercely digital.