Mother Jones Hires Two Female Co-Editors-In Chief
Doubles may be fine for tennis, but having more than one person helm the top editorial position of a magazine is rare. But San-Francisco-based Mother Jones is bucking conventional wisdom with the recent appointment of not one, but two women to fill the magazine’s editor-in-chief position.
Co-editors-in-chief Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery will share responsibility of the editorial content of the bimonthly political and investigative magazine. Bauerlein has been with the left-leaning magazine for six years and most recently served as investigative editor, while Jeffery joined in 2002 as deputy editor. Bauerlin believes the arrangement to be a win for both the magazine and females working in the magazine industry. "There have been horrendously few women in these political thought magazines," says Bauerlein. "We have been complaining for years because for some reason people don’t think women are capable of running magazines that contribute to the political debate in this country."
Publisher Jay Harris says it’s the women’s credibility, both in the Mother Jones offices, as well as the political journalism industry, that makes them ideal for the job. "It is really these particular women and their complementary talents who are what makes the prospect of the co-editorship so promising," says Harris. "They know what they want to accomplish and, because there are two of them, they can drive forward faster than either one could by herself."
Collaboration does not seem to be a threat to the women or their small staff of five. "We’ve done this together before in an interim period and we’ve worked on a number of big projects together," says Jeffery. "It doesn’t seem unmanageable to us, it seems like an advantage to have strategic partner."
The magazine, accompanying Web site and radio show will continue on the same track under the new leadership, however the women plan to make all three products faster and more urgent using a new investigative reporting team. "We are trying to better integrate the Web site and radio show to help build a team leadership approach to things," says Jeffery.
Other women who have served as editor-in-chief of political publications include Katrina Vanden Heuvel (The Nation), Tina Brown (Vanity Fair, The New Yorker) and Deirdre English who was the editor of Mother Jones from 1981-1986. "There are a lot of great women working at all these magazines, but there’s been a real paucity of female leadership at the very top," says Bauerlein in a statement. Add’s Jeffery, "Monika and I joke that with one fell swoop; we’ve bumped the total up by half."