Mary Harris Jones must be turning in her grave

I've been debating whether I should post this for a few days, but I've decided I must.  

Earlier this week, I went to the Mother Jones website to find an old article I wanted to post here. But my search was interrupted when I saw an ad for Wal-Mart pop up.

An ad for Wal-Mart on the website of a magazine that calls itself:   

An independent nonprofit whose roots lie in a commitment to social justice implemented through first rate investigative reporting.

An ad for Wal-Mart on the website of a magazine named after Mary Harris Jones, a labor organizer, educator, and community organizer.

Just out of curiousity, I did a search on the site for "Wal-Mart," remembering at least a handful of investigative articles I've read over the years about the company. But actually, a list of over 1,000 articles was returned. Articles with titles like: 

Up Against Wal-Mart 

Wal-Mart sues brain damaged employee as reward for giving her health insurance 

Wal-Mart can afford to pay workers more 

Reason 4,321 to hate Wal-Mart (the reason is the little pair of undies below) 

who needs


I thought I should include Mother Jones' ad policy because technically, they're not doing anything "wrong" by running Wal-Mart ads. It's aligned with their policy, and given the number of articles critical of Wal-Mart they've run, it doesn't seem to be compromising their editorial decisions. The thing is, though, I have major problems with a magazine that takes money from a place like Wal-Mart and still calls itself "independent," with "roots lying in social justice."   

In advertising, as in the editorial sections of the web site, Mother Jones respects and values free expression and dissenting voices.

We accept advertising because it helps pay the costs of publishing a tenaciously independent, muckraking magazine. The percentage of the magazine's income that is derived from advertising is modest, but it is significant to our ability to operate, and we are proud of the professional relationships our advertising staff has cultivated with marketers. At the same time, we are all very clear about Mother Jones' and's reason for being: we're in business to produce great public interest journalism, no strings attached. In so doing, we reserve the right to write critically about any issue in our editorial pages.

Having decided on these grounds to accept advertising, we do so with a presumption against banning specific advertisements or advertisers, even if they are controversial or if they represent views contrary to those of our editors. We may elect to reject a advertisements that are patently false, libelous, exploitative, or hateful, or that fail to meet the production standards of our publication. But in the main, we assume that our readers are sufficiently smart and skeptical to evaluate advertising claims for themselves, and we accept most advertisements. We believe such a policy furthers our commitment to making the pages of Mother Jones and, both editorial and advertising, a home for diverse opinions and lively debate.

We invite comments from readers and advertisers about this policy. Send your comments to:

Jay Harris, PublisherMother Jones222 Sutter Street, 6th Floor,San Francisco, CA 94108phone: (415) 321 1700fax: (415) 665-6696



by Debbie Rasmussen
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3 Comments Have Been Posted

who needs independent publishing...when you can just pretend?

it seems hypocritical to make a distinction in policy against advertisements that are "exploitative and hateful" while maintaining a relationship with a company that embodies those very characteristics. In other words, it’s okay to be aligned with a corporation that uses sweatshop labor and exploits workers, as long as what appears in the pages of MotherJones (or on their website) doesn’t offend their “sufficiently smart and skeptical” readers?

Also, they are “proud” of the relationship they have cultivated with Walmart? Um…seriously?

I think it would be more honest just to say that it’s nearly impossible to survive as a truly independent publication, and the easier road is to accept relationships with corporate advertisers, so that’s what they did. Why all the justifying?

p.s. i have these underpants in 5 colors. is that wrong?


did you see the tip drill video?


Not sure I want to read Mother Jones anymore

Am disappointed in learning of this. I thought NPR taking $$$$ from Wal-Mart was bad enough.

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