Monday, February 23, 2015

A Solid Publication Analysis

English: Cover of the May/June 2010 issue of M...
English: Cover of the May/June 2010 issue of Mother Jones magazine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
You'll notice Andrew took a look at 1) the Writer Guidelines, 2) the actual contents of the magazine, 3) the editorial calendar and 4) the demographic breakdown the magazine presents to advertisers. He did not provide hyperlinks because I did not require them at the time, but he easily could have.

Mother Jones Publication Analysis
            There are many quality magazines that exist to serve the public by covering important social issues and influential people, but for my specific profile, it seems that Mother Jones is a magazine that could be willing to publish a story like the one I am hoping to write if certain criteria are met. Specifically, I am looking to profile an individual who works for the San Francisco Tenants Union, and this woman has certainly been dealing with the numerous housing issues that exist in San Francisco currently. For a potential profile like this, it seems that Mother Jones could be a worthy pick because it is an internationally-known magazine that does plenty of stories covering topics such as politics, human rights, and others. Upon further analysis though, there are factors that show that Mother Jones could prove not to be a magazine that would be willing to cover my specific profile idea unless I spun the story in a certain way. Overall, Mother Jones has guidelines and aspects that favor a potential publication of my profile and do not support my profile idea as well.
            The first thing worth studying in regards to Mother Jones is the magazine’s guidelines for its writers. Upon first glance, the guidelines brought me optimism that this magazine could publish my potential profile because it is stated that a lot of emphasis is put towards publishing stories concerning human rights and political issues. However, further reading showed that Mother Jones may also not be willing to publish my story at all. It is clearly stated later in the guidelines that Mother Jones has zero interest in publishing stories about local issues unless it has national implications. This is mentioned because the magazine is known for having a nationwide audience. Therefore, a profile that highlights an important community member that helps people who cope with housing issues in San Francisco would not qualify for publication in Mother Jones at all unless I make a connection between the housing issues in San Francisco to the overall economy of the United States perhaps. Therefore, after reading the writer’s guidelines, it is clear that a straight-up profile of a woman that works for the San Francisco Tenants Union would not be published by Mother Jones unless I make a connection to the national economy or national housing issues in general.
            After studying the writer’s guidelines for Mother Jones, the next stage of analysis was to see if any stories had been published recently in Mother Jones that are related to my potential profile. After careful examination, I was glad to find a photo essay* that highlighted the essence of the SoMa neighborhood before Silicon Valley companies came in and turned the area into a center for rampant technology development. The small story was well-written, and it contained many photos of an older San Francisco that differs tremendously from the San Francisco that we all know today. (Some stories are cruel in just that way.) The story made me want to live in that San Francisco instead. In addition to all that, the story highlighted the current housing issues that exist in the city, and that is exactly what my profile would address. Interestingly, this article also made me realize that Mother Jones may have contradicted itself in its writer’s guidelines. While the magazine strives to publish stories that would have a nationwide impact, the photo essay I read seemed to have more of a local vibe (You raise a couple interesting points: 1) Some stories are considered ‘national’ because the place profiled is assumed to be a place of national interest. Thus, NYC and LA stories are considered to matter because of the shadow they are assumed to cast over the rest of the country. They are cultural markers. They foreshadow, we think, without evidence of that future influence always being produced. 2) MJ is here, which might lead them to conclude SF is in the same category as NYC and LA. When it comes to tech, I guess it is) that would only appeal to citizens of San Francisco. In the end, the articles that I have read including the photo essay have made me more optimistic that Mother Jones could hypothetically publish my profile in the future.
            Going even further, it seems that my profile would fit very well into the Mother Jones editorial calendar too. For each month or pair of months, Mother Jones has a theme that its stories strive to reflect. My potential profile would be most related to politics and human rights, and these are two of the main themes that Mother Jones has in its editorial calendar. Now, my profile is expected to be finished in May, and it turns out that the theme for May and June in this year’s Mother Jones editorial calendar is politics. Therefore, my profile may fit in very well in this magazine for the months of May and June. Therefore, the editorial calendar has provided even more proof that my profile could be published by Mother Jones.
            The last key aspect that is important to the analysis of Mother Jones is its demographic breakdown. ( I like having these specific numbers called to my attention. I would have accurately guessed some of this, but I would never have considered your last bit of demographic. It’s an important aspect of the MJ readership I would never have thought to consider.) According to the breakdowns provided on the Mother Jones website and Mother Jones Media Kit, the readers of Mother Jones are highly educated, as 97% of readers attended college and 77% of readers earned a bachelor’s degree or better. Also, approximately 45% of readers consider themselves progressive, while 32% of readers consider themselves liberal. Even more interestingly, 91% of readers believe that corporations have the responsibility of gauging the impact of their actions on the public, and 23% of readers took action in a local issue. Lastly, 65% of readers contacted elected officials concerning matters that impact the public. With all of this information in mind, it seems that the demographic breakdown favors potential publication of my story because the profile would highlight a person who is associated with a complex social issue, and the audience of Mother Jones seems to be highly educated and caring about issues that matter to the public. Therefore, the demographic breakdown has me even more hopeful, as my profile would hypothetically be published to an audience that wants to make a difference in this world.
            Overall, it is a tough call whether Mother Jones would publish my potential profile or not. There are many factors such as the demographic breakdown and the editorial calendar that support potential publication of my story, and there are also factors that seemingly don’t help or hinder my chances of publication such as the advertising partners and letters to the editor. However, it is the portion of the writer’s guidelines about avoiding the publication of local stories to a nationwide audience that has kept me reluctant to commit to the idea of Mother Jones being a perfect magazine for my story. However, I know that if I make a connection between housing issues in San Francisco to the nationwide economy as a whole, then my profile could appeal to a much larger audience. Therefore, Mother Jones could support publication of the story, even though I’d rather let my profile subject stay in the spotlight throughout the entire story. Nevertheless, if that’s what it takes, then I am willing to make the adjustments necessary in order to increase the chances of my profile being published in Mother Jones.

Thoughtful analysis that ebbs and flows, which I like. The only other consideration concerning which I'd particularly enjoy hearing your ideas is the MJ ‘voice.’ Do they have one? Is there some distinctive uniformity of style in their stories?? Grade: A

*Link to photo essay:

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