How journalists gag themselves

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Self-censorship is alive and well in today’s mainstream press, where four in 10 journalists say they avoid reporting stories that they perceive to be too boring, complex, or controversial. So says a new poll from the Pew Research Center for People & the Press and the COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW.

The poll of 210 reporters from both local and national news outlets indicated that the pressure to be commercially appealing frequently induces reporters to “soften the tone” of the stories they cover, or to avoid covering stories which might be considered “boring” to readers or viewers. But perhaps most revolting is that 35 percent of those polled said they had avoided covering a story because it could hurt the financial interests of the news organization’s corporate owner, and 29 percent had done the same out of deference to an advertiser.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend