Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mother Jones's Mitt Romney Story

Lots of talk, of course, about Mitt Romney's 47% speech, and now the inside-baseball stories are starting to come out. The New York Times has a piece on Mother Jones, and the Washington Post has another on how the magazine landed the story.

Although Ramparts magazine, from which Mother Jones sprang, isn't mentioned, I recalled Adam Hochschild's comment about its formula for success: "Find an expose that major newspapers are afraid to touch, publish it with a big enough splash that they can't afford to ignore it ... and then publicize it in a way that plays the press off against each other."

I was surprised that the Times thought its own readers would need that much background information on Mother Jones, which has been around since the mid-1970s. Interesting, too, that the article quotes Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos and our author at PoliPointPress.

Nicholas Lemann's remark about Mother Jones is also instructive. Lemann, dean of Columbia University's graduate school of journalism, said it helped that "Mother Jones seems to live in a zone where it’s respected. It’s obviously ideological. But it’s respected."

I don't want to get too fussy about this quote, which was almost certainly part of some larger point. And yes, it's important to note that Mother Jones is respected. But I really do wonder who's NOT ideological in Lemann's sense. Only news organizations that maximize profit for shareholders? Or that subset plus the BBC and minus Fox News? In far too many discussions of the media, the ideology of the modern media corporation doesn't count as an ideology at all.

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