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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   April 1999  issue

Staying Up to Date   

Mother Jones' new editor says the crusading monthly is not "dated" or "of another era."

By Shanteé C. Woodards

Roger Cohn wants to make it clear that the liberal and crusading Mother Jones magazine is not "dated" or "of another era." The magazine's new editor in chief calls the monthly one of the "few journalistic magazines left" but says Mother Jones, founded in 1976, "needs to get out there and show that it's not some holdover from the '70s." Cohn, a former executive editor of Audubon magazine, fills the spot vacated in October by Jeffrey Klein , a MoJo co-founder who spent six years at its helm. Publisher Jay Harris says he knew he was in for a lengthy search to find someone who could continue the magazine's investigative tradition. Cohn was selected, Harris says, because of his investigative and writing credentials. While directing Audubon from 1991 to 1998, Cohn built up the roster with an "extensive range of writers--both reporters and essayists," Harris says. "That mix--combined with what we see as his ability to shape the best writing--that's a pretty good combination for us." Before his time at Audubon, Cohn was a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer for 10 years, and in 1984, he wrote about public housing on an Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship. For the past year, he has been freelancing and working as a consultant for GQ magazine and Time-Life. In his new post, Cohn wants to get Mother Jones "back to its investigative reporting roots." And while the magazine "needs to stay true to its concern for social issues," he says, "it needs to make sure it remains contemporary and relevant." Though stories about the nonprofit MoJo's financial woes abound, Cohn doesn't see money as a problem. "I'm quite satisfied I'll have the resources to put out a first-rate magazine," he says. Harris sees the new leadership at Mother Jones as heralding a new era of growth. "I think we're going to have strong, iconoclastic investigative reporting," Harris says. "I think we'll have stories that scourge the sacred cows of right and left wing and...we'll see a surge in our circulation as well."