When I referred to a post in which journalism professor Jay Rosen of New York University expressed concern over how Mother Jones addressed the political web in its package "Politics 2.0" I was surprised that Clara Jeffery, one of the magazine's co-editors, commented on my post (and then another time).  Jeffery defends the magazine's reporting, and while I'll stand by my stance, I would like to point out that Mother Jones seems to get blog outreach much better than most other news organizations.

In response to criticism in the blogosphere sparked by Rosen's piece on his Press Think and Huffington Post blogs, Mother Jones staffers — including editors — dispersed and joined the commenters in discussing the piece.  Clearly, the magazine is defending its reporting, and it sees the importance of participating in the dialog.  By chiming in it gets to present its side of the story while bypassing middlemen (if bloggers allow unrestricted commenting), directly address questions of potential readers, and challenge the criticism directly.  Further, by doing this in the comment section, they get their input out in the open, and in some cases it is close to the actual criticism.  Besides, why challenge the on-line political pundits if you're not willing to defend yourself on their turf?

While I haven't noticed such action before, I feel that it is important to point to Mother Jones as an example.  It has shown that it is not afraid to use the Internet to debate, defend itself, and interact with normal folk.  Unfortunately far too many journalists and news organizations cower behind their pretentious job titles and virtually ignore the opportunity to strengthen ties with fans, win over some enemies, or maybe at least foster respect from an opponent.  Blog outreach efforts engages the audience and perhaps turns it into a community.

Way to go!