Is Journalism Crumbling?

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It’s hard to summarize Pulitzer Prize-winner and Mother Jones contributor David Cay Johnston’s report on the state of journalism, so you should just go read it. But it’s clear the situation is grim: stenography journalism is cheap and easy, while real investigative work is expensive and hard. With the industry in turmoil in the wake of massive economic and technological disruptions, less actual investigative work—less actual reporting—gets done each year. Johnston does a great job of diagnosing and explaining the problem (I’d also recommend Dean Starkman’s Columbia Journalism Review piece on the “hamster wheel“). But the most depressing part of the piece is that no one knows how to fix the problems that Johnston identifies. There’s no end in sight.


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

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