Mother Jones Provides Model for Nonprofit News

Floundering for-profits take note of magazine's success
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2009 3:09 PM CDT
The cover of Mother Jones' April issue.   (Mother Jones)

(Newser) Mother Jones has thrived for 33 years as a nonprofit publication, and its business model is becoming of increasing interest to struggling newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Though the magazine was founded as a nonprofit because of Nixon-era fears of undue influence in journalism, Mother Jones hit its financial target in 2008—and is a finalist for three National Magazine Awards.

The model is attractive to publications looking to reinvent themselves in an era of falling advertising and circulation dollars. Raising funds for a major newsroom would be a challenge using the nonprofit model, critics note, but with the magazine’s website also experimenting with payment schemes like voluntary “microcharging,” Mother Jones is likely to continue to intrigue the evolving news industry.