Friday, June 10, 2005

Kevin directs us to Mother Jones' strong Editor's Note in the new issue

Kevin's had to wait on this, and my apologies to him for that.

Kevin e-mailed to note that the new edition of Mother Jones magazine is out. Kevin wanted to note that the "Editor's Note" this time is a strong one "and deserves attention." After the last few, I was wary. (And never read their note each issue until angry members pointed them out.)
He asked that I note whether I agreed or not. (Which might be curiousity or might be knowing how angry the community's been at two editor's note and not wanting to stand alone on this.)

I read it Thursday (when Kevin e-mailed on it) and I'd agree it's strong and worth noting. (So Kevin's not standing alone.)

From the "Editor's Note:"

For its part, much of the left has spent the months since November (really, it has been spending years) wallowing in insecure self-inspection; the Democratic Party has invited everyone form linguists to preachers to exorcise the internal flaw that could explain its ineffectuality. Party leaders might heed the formulation of W.B. Yeats in his poem "To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Nothing": "For how can you compete/ Being honour bred, with one/ Who, were it proved he lies/ Were neither shamed in his own/ Nor in his neighbor's eyes?" The Democrats need to recognize that their biggest internal problem may be their inability to size up their external one. Simply put, they have an unscrupulous antagonist.
[. . .]
Lastly, and speaking from the self-centeredness of our offices, what does all this mean for Mother Jones? When the crisis at the core of our nation's political decline is a direct attack on the truth, the institution that should take the lead in confronting and correcting the dangers is the press. That means us. We have been, since our founding, a reported magazine, and would rather spend our resources ferreting out the facts of a matter than spend our breath expounding opinions. In the current climate, and facing the present danger, we do not find our political orientation to be inconsistent with our devotion to fact. We're better positioned to honor objective fact because we aren't insulted by the charge that we're "the liberal media." We have offered space in these pages to the dialogue about constructive course corrections that might avail the left. But we won't respond to the political winds by calibrating our message. We have looked at the problem, and decided that the answer is not to accommodate. In upcoming issues, you, our readers, will witness our rededication to this fight, and our confidence that reality is our ally. Considering the demonstrated belief of leaders on the right that furthering their agenda requires bludgeoning and inconvenient truth, we evidentally are not alone in concluding that the facts are on our side.
-- Russ Rymer

[For Doug who's about to start a summer semester, this is pp. 4-5 of the May/June issue of Mother Jones. In the class, everyone will be doing a paper on the press and truth vs. spin. Doug gets the New York Times but if you're noting something about the press from a print sourcein any of your entries for the next few weeks -- I think it's three, let me know if that's wrong Doug -- and it's not available online, please try to note the pages to help Doug out. The first paragraph is page four, the second -- begins with "Lastly" -- is page five.]

The "Editor's Note" isn't available online (I think I typed it up correctly but if spell check shows a problem Doug, trust that I've got a typo). But Russ Rymer was announced as the new editor-in-chief on January 13, 2005.

From that press release (in full, it's a press release and I know members have had questions regarding the editorial leadership after two "Editor's Notes" that were bothersome so we'll note it in full):

Mother Jones magazine announced today that Russ Rymer has been named editor-in-chief of Mother Jones, effective February 7.
A noted writer and editor, Rymer has held senior editing posts at seven national and regional magazines and has written for the New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, Mother Jones, and many other magazines. His first book Genie: A Scientific Tragedy was a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award and was turned into a PBS documentary. His second book American Beach: A Saga of Race, Wealth, and Memory was named a New York Times Notable Book and was a finalist for a Los Angeles Times Book Award.
Rymer is currently the top editor at Portland Monthly, which in only two years has become the seventh-largest city magazine in the country in newsstand sales and the top-ranked city magazine in the country in sales per-capita. An issue of Hippocrates magazine (now Health) that he conceived and edited won a 1989 National Magazine Award for Best Single Topic Issue. In 2002, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for a project related to the fate of craftsmanship in the era of globalization.
"These political times demand that Mother Jones be at its most energetic and muscular," says Jay Harris, Mother Jones' president and publisher. "Russ and the editors will produce a magazine that leaves no doubt about the power of progressive ideas. He will treat our readers to powerful writing and to great reporting that searches out truth and brings back scalps."
Rymer says he wants to lead a magazine "that makes clear why progressive ideas are right for the nation's future. At a time when our own government is recklessly endangering our national security and economic stability, and neglecting our social welfare, Mother Jones' voice is needed more than ever. I’m excited to be here."
With a circulation of 240,000, Mother Jones is the largest-circulation progressive publication in the country. The magazine’s circulation has been on a steady upward track for the past six years, growing from 130,000 in 1998.
Mother Jones won a National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2001, its fourth NMA, and was a finalist in General Excellence again in 2003.

I'm still making my way through the issue (Kevin judges it to be "the strongest issue in months")
and hopefully we can highlight some articles from it. (Time permitting.) But articles available online can be found at the Mother Jones website.

The e-mail address for this site is