I started as the Art Director of Mother Jones, graduated to Creative Director a few years later and, as I started doing more editorial work, became the Executive Editor. I also established the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography, raising funds and awarding grants to photographers all over the world.
Left to right: From Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio's epic projects, Material World and Women of the World, which became a special issue; from Mother Jones photo fund winner Viktor Kolar's essay on Ostrava; Paul Hawken, whose Natural Capitalism issue became a popular reprint; O.J. Simpson by Phillip Burke, who painted several covers for the magazine.
RESTORING PUBLIC TRUST by Daniel Yankelovich
Dan, whose lifelong research into public opinion is broad and deep, was one of the first writers I recruited to Mother Jones after assuming editorial duties. We became friends and later he helped me land a position with the DC policy journal, Blueprint, published by the Progressive Policy Institute. His article, predicting that Gingrich was overreaching and would fail, proved prescient. Dan died in 2017.
In the aftermath of the midterm election of 1994, the Republicans are repeating the same mistake the Democrats made after the 1992 election. Then, the Clinton administration misinterpreted its narrow win over George Bush as a mandate to create the kinds of programs liberal Democrats historically support. It wasn't until the stunning defeat of the Clinton health care bill, followed by the 1994 election, that the administration realized its error. Read more.
MIXED PAINT by Louis Menand
Menand is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Metaphysical Club and longtime contributor to the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. I asked him to write this article in 1995 as debates over multiculturalism were heating up. It holds up well and presages today's discouraging moment for liberalism.
The "culture wars"--the metaphor into which campus hate-speech codes, school prayer, Afrocentric school curricula, abortion, politically correct language, family values, affirmative action, the racial distribution of intelligence, deconstructionist literary criticism, sexual harassment policy, the Great Books, hardcore pornography, publicly funded art, and many other fractious things, are currently stuffed--are misfigured. The term suggests two great armies, one "liberal" and permissivist and looking a lot like a horde of Michael Kinsleys with slightly more raffish beards, the other "conservative" and traditionalist and looking alarmingly like a horde of Patrick Buchanans with slightly less charm. Read more.
THE SPIRAL OF INEQUALITY by Paul Krugman
I asked Krugman, then a professor at Stanford, to write this piece on inequality in 1996. A winner of the Nobel Prize, he is now a famous and happily controversial columnist for the New York Times.
Ever since the election of Ronald Reagan, right-wing radicals have insisted that they started a revolution in America. They are half right. If by a revolution we mean a change in politics, economics, and society that is so large as to transform the character of the nation, then there is indeed a revolution in progress. The radical right did not make this revolution, although it has done its best to help it along. If anything, we might say that the revolution created the new right. But whatever the cause, it has become urgent that we appreciate the depth and significance of this new American revolution—and try to stop it before it becomes irreversible.The consequences of the revolution are obvious in cities across the nation. Since I know the area well, let me take you on a walk down University Avenue in Palo Alto, California. Read more.
NATURAL CAPITALISM by Paul Hawken
It took me two years to convince Paul to write what became an entire issue of the magazine, based on his book with Amory Lovins. Although I took heat from the Mother Jones board for putting the word “capitalism” on the cover, a reprint of the issue soon became the most popular in the magazine’s history.
Natural capital is easy to overlook because it is the pond we swim in. One can live perfectly well without ever giving a thought to the sulfur cycle or wetland functions. Only when the benefits nature provides are disrupted do we take notice. When rain disappears and soil blows away in the Southwest, when reservoirs become polluted, or when we learn that mercury contaminates the fish we eat from the Great Lakes, we suddenly grasp the effect of natural capital depletion. Most floods are caused by man, not weather; deforestation, levee construction, erosion, and overgrazing all result in the loss of ecosystem services. Compared to the rest of the world, Americans are fortunate -- so far. Many regions face far more severe effects of natural capital depletion. But each ecosystem depends on the health of all ecosystems. Read more.
20TH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE: TWENTY WAYS WE'VE CHANGED
I still find it interesting to reflect on what was said in this issue, published in the mid-90s. I was creative director for this issue, suggested the theme, and recruited most of the contributors, including writers Walter Truett Anderson, David Brower, Gretchen Daily, Paul and Ann Ehrlich, Eduardo Galeano, Howard Gardner, Paul Krugman, Louis Menand, Orville Schell, Frank Viviano, and Daniel Yankelovich. Photographers included Bud Lee, Sebastiao Salgado. Illustrator Victor Juhasz drew all the faces. Read more.