Everyone has heard of Mother Jones, focusing on public issues such as the environment, income equality, gun control, and presidential politics. Facebook, for Mother Jones, is the top driver of growth. In the past five years, its online audience has grown from fewer than 1 million to 9 million readers a month. Facebook referrals currently generate 45 percent of Mother Jones’ online traffic.
But slow load times, especially on mobile devices, present a big problem. Loss of readers due to lags in how fast news pages load is recognized as an industry-wide issue. Enough so that Facebook has dedicated resources to one possible solution, Instant Articles, which loads stories instantly inside the platform.
Mother Jones wants to test Instant Articles and optimize how this tool can perform for all nonprofit publishers — including developing custom membership/donor asks and working closely with Facebook to make sure the tool can serve smaller publishers. Once it is open to all, Mother Jones will have and share a playbook enabling nonprofit newsrooms to make maximum use of the platform. To date, only for-profit publishers have had access to the beta test, so this is a worthwhile effort which will benefit the entire nonprofit news sphere.
Judges felt strongly this is definitely a useful experiment — having Mother Jones test Facebook Instant Articles and share results will have a strong impact and take testing further than many smaller nonprofit publishers could on their own. It fits the INNovation Fund aims of furthering experimentation, replication, and innovation.