A few words on subscriptions and support for Mother Jones & other specialty magazines

Dear Mother Jones reader,

According to our records you’ve been receiving Mother Jones email newsletters for about a month now—so this is the last “welcome” message you’ll receive from me.

So far, I’ve explained who Mother Jones is and how our model of reader support makes us unique. I’ve given you a free sample of our magazine and extended a special $9.99 offer to give it a try for a full year. And today, I’m making a pitch for a tax-deductible donation to support the reporting you’ve been reading from us.

But I’m kind of tired of the usual marketing gimmicks: HELP! We’ll go out of business if readers don’t support us.

I mean, it’s actually true—because 70 percent of our funding comes from readers—but panicky emails like that don’t exactly appeal to your intelligence. So we had this other idea: What if we did appeal to your intelligence? What if we transparently explained the challenges of paying for journalism in the digital age and how your support makes Mother Jones possible?

If you already get it, I hope you’ll MoJo Reader&a_last_name=&a_address_1=&a_city=&a_state=&a_zip=&a_email=bizmarts@yahoo.com” data-mp-url-id=”_fd6a251b279f5ec4e53af88193fe3ccee0e1fd62″ mp-encode=”false”>make your tax-deductible gift to support Mother Jones right now via credit card or PayPal.

MoJo Reader&a_last_name=&a_address_1=&a_city=&a_state=&a_zip=&a_email=bizmarts@yahoo.com” data-mp-url-id=”_fd6a251b279f5ec4e53af88193fe3ccee0e1fd62″ mp-encode=”false”>But if you need more convincing, here goes.

The structures that used to support a robust press have fallen apart. You know “legacy media” is in trouble, but here’s what that means: In 1990 there were more than 55,000 journalists working in America’s daily newsrooms. In 2014, it was down to just under 32,000.Most news these days gets paid for in one of two ways—advertising or well-heeled funders and investors—and neither is built to ensure a critical mass of the investigative journalism that our democracy needs. Advertising opens newsrooms up to pressure from corporations, not to mention “native ads” (ads that pretend to be stories). And big-time funders may seek to control the media organizations they invest in—or simply squeeze them for profit.There’s a third way to fund news, and this is where Mother Jones has staked its claim. From our founding almost 40 years ago, we made a bet that our readers would support a newsroom that tells the stories no one else will. And readers have.

This reader-supporter model means everything to Mother Jones. It means we can send our reporters after difficult, sometimes dangerous stories without fear that a powerful advertiser or funder will yank us back. The diverse revenue streams give us resilience, like during the recession when instead of contracting we actually expanded, by opening our Washington bureau. And we believe that when all the craziness in the media landscape plays out, this is how a lot of public-interest journalism in America will happen: by people like you who consume it, helping support it.

Sounds a lot like your public radio or television station, right? It’s the same idea—and just as they get about 10 percent of their audience to become supporters, about 10 percent of our print readers donate.

But we all live on the internet now, and while the digital revolution has taken Mother Jones from an audience of about 200,000 to one of 9 million and growing, reader support hasn’t kept up. Not even close. If the 10 percent ratio held, some 900,000 of our online readers would donate every month—not a few thousand.

We don’t know how many of our new email newsletter subscribers will respond to this, or whether our idea to make all this transparent will actually work. But it feels like the right thing to do. After all, it’s what we do with our journalism: lay out the facts and let you take it from there.

If you’re with us and believe unrelenting, investigative journalism is vital to democracy

Thanks for reading and being part of the Mother Jones community.

Monika Bauerlein HeadshotMonika Bauerlein
Monika Bauerlein, CEO
Mother Jones

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