The Progressive

From SourceWatch
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Progressive is a bimonthly magazine founded in 1909. The publication self-identifies as "A voice for peace, social justice, and the common good!" and seeks "to amplify voices of dissent and voices under-represented in the mainstream, with a goal of championing grassroots progressive politics."[1]

Estimated Reach

As of December 2019, the publication's website received around an estimated 118,000 unique monthly views.[2] As of this same time, The Progressive's Facebook page had over 43,000 followers[3] and its Twitter page had over 32,000 followers.[4]

Content of Writing

In a 2009 Democracy Now! interview celebrating the magazine's 100-year anniversary, former editor Matthew Rothschild named a few of the most influential investigative pieces produced by The Progressive.[5]

Award-Winning Piece on Carceral Stun Equipment

A 1996 piece by Anne-Marie Cusac highlighted the danger of law enforcement using stun belts and other stun equipment. Cusac reported on the lack of appropriate research on the harmful capabilities of this technology, lack of liability for misuse of the equipment, and the willingness of a major stun belt manufacturer to sell its products to countries notorious for violating human rights.[6]

Rothschild described the piece in 2009 saying, "This was more than ten years ago, where she showed that these stun belts, these stun guns and all sorts of hideous electronic devices that police forces have all across the country are going to kill people. And sure enough, they’ve killed people."[5]

Cusac's piece won a George Polk Award in 1996.[7]

CIA Collaboration with El Salvadorian Death Squads

A 1984 piece by Allan Nairn[8] exposed the multi-decade U.S. backing of El Salvadorian death squads. The squads' leaders "confessed to him that they were working for the CIA and that the CIA had established these death squads, not just in the Ronald Reagan administration, but all the way back to the sainted John F. Kennedy... JFK and Lyndon B. Johnson and on up had financed them, trained them and armed them."[5]

United States v. Progressive, Inc.

A 1979 article ready for publication by The Progressive drew from unclassified documents and interviews with scientists to tell the "secret" of the general scientific concepts behind the creation of a hydrogen bomb. The author, anti-Nuclear weapons activist Howard Morland, claimed the purpose of the piece was to "make a basic point as forcefully as I can: secrecy itself, especially the power of a few designated 'experts' to declare some topics off limits, contributes to a political climate in which the nuclear establishment can conduct business as usual, protecting and perpetuating the production of these horror weapons."[9]

The threat of publication of Morland's article resulted in a U.S. District Court case, which decreed that the speech of the article fell under an "extremely narrow recognized area, involving national security, in which a prior restraint on publication is appropriate"[10] and did "not, under the circumstances presented to the Court, violate defendants' First Amendment rights."[10] Due to this preliminary injunction, the article was delayed for over six months.[5]

However, after realizing many documents with similar information were already available in the public domain,[11] the U.S. government dropped the case and the article was published in the November 1979 issue of The Progressive.[9]

James Baldwin's "A Letter to My Nephew"

In 1962, The Progressive published a letter written by African-American author, playwright, and civil rights activist James Baldwin to his nephew. In the letter, Baldwin told his nephew, "You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits to your ambition were thus expected to be settled. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity and in as many ways as possible that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence. You were expected to make peace with mediocrity."[12] Despite beginning with a harrowing description of American racism, Baldwin's letter ended on a hopeful note, reminding his nephew that America "is your home, my friend. Do not be driven from it. Great men have done great things here and will again and we can make America what America must become."[12]

Popular Anti-McCarthy Exposé

A 1954 exposé of anti-communist senator Joseph McCarthy sold around 300,000 copies although the magazine only had around 30,000 subscribers at the time.[5]


From the publication's website: "On January 9, 1909, Senator Robert M. La Follette Sr. of Wisconsin founded La Follette's Weekly to be 'a magazine of progress, social, intellectual, institutional.' The goal, he wrote, was 'winning back for the people the complete power over government —national, state, and municipal— which has been lost to them.' He attacked private greed in the form of corporate monopolies that hoarded power. He championed the public interest, campaigning for social and economic justice. And he urged the United States not to entangle itself in foreign wars."

"In 1929, La Follette’s Weekly changed its name to The Progressive, but the views of the magazine have remained remarkably consistent over the years. The Progressive, a monthly since 1948, has steadfastly stood against militarism, the concentration of power in corporate hands, and the disenfranchisement of the citizenry. It has continued to champion peace, social and economic justice, civil rights, civil liberties, human rights, a preserved environment, and a reinvigorated democracy. Its bedrock values remain nonviolence and freedom of speech." [13]

Progressive Media Project

Since 1993, The Progressive has run the Progressive Media Project, a free "series of workshops[14] to train activists and nonprofit staff on how to write powerful op-eds."[15] In addition to these workshops, the magazine collects "op-eds from activists every week, and distribute[s] them via wire service to newspapers around the country"[15] with the stated goal "to support voices that are underrepresented in the mainstream media and generate nationwide dialogue on critical issues reflecting underreported and marginalized perspectives."[15]

Public School Shakedown

According to the publication's website, "The Progressive launched Public School Shakedown in September 2013 to pull back the curtain and reveal what is at stake, to follow the money and expose the privatizers, and to report on the resistance... Our goal is to empower teachers, parents, and other community members to learn about what is going on, connect with each other, and to organize to advocate for strong public schools that serve all students well."[16]

Progressive Education Fellows

To assist with its "Public School Shakedown" articles, The Progressive hosts Progressive Education Fellows, who "come from every region of the country, and from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of expertise. They are teachers, administrators, journalists, parent activists, and leaders of the movement to defend public schools."[17]

According to fellow Jeff Bryant, his and his peers' writing in favor of progressive education serves as "a diverse counterpoint to current top-down reform mandates that stress standardization, high-stakes testing, and market competition for public schools."[18] As Bryant describes it, "Because democracy implies community, progressivism insists students, parents, teachers, and members of the greater community of the school have a voice in school policies and practices. Because community implies working together, education progressivism is committed to diversity and equity. Because education progressives believe democracy is at the heart of school governance and decisions about policy and practice, they uphold the rights of teachers to organize and engage in collective bargaining."[18]

As of December 2019, these fellows included:

  • Jeff Bryant
  • Xian Franzinger Barrett
  • Jennifer C. Berkshire
  • Ashana Bigard
  • Peter Greene
  • Jesse Hagopian
  • Julian Vasquez Heilig
  • Jake Jacobs
  • Sarah Lahm
  • Cynthia Liu
  • Rann Miller
  • Sabrina Joy Stevens
  • Dora Taylor
  • John Thompson
  • Carole Trone
  • Jose Luis Vilson

Core Financials

The Progressive, Inc., a nonprofit, funds The Progressive magazine.


  • Total Revenue: 1,150,170
  • Total Expenses: 1,138,964
  • Net Assets: -427,093


  • Total Revenue: 1,305,341
  • Total Expenses: 1,321,391
  • Net Assets: -440,533


  • Total Revenue: 1,396,427
  • Total Expenses: 1,535,240
  • Net Assets: -425,128



As of December 2019:[22]

  • Norman Stockwell, publisher
  • Bill Lueders, editor
  • Mrill Ingram, website manager & editor
  • Alexandra Tempus, associate editor
  • Ruth Conniff, editor-at-large
  • Kerstin Vogdes Diehn, art director
  • Daniel K. Libby, development director
  • Jess Pernsteiner, office manager
  • Jules Gibbs, poetry editor
  • Diana Cook & Catherine Cronin, proofreaders extraordinaires
  • Molly Liebergall, editorial intern
  • Alexandria Millet, PSS project intern
  • Olivia Poches, publishing intern

Board of Directors

As of December 2019:[22]

  • James Friedmann, co-president
  • Michael W. Apple, John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Ed Angelina
  • Bill White
  • Miriam Goldberg
  • Sue Collins


The Progressive
30 W. Mifflin Street, Suite 703.
Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 257-4626
Facebook: @theprogressivemagazine
Twitter: @theprogressive

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

IRS Form 990 Filings





  1. The Progressive, Mission & History, publication website, accessed December 18, 2019.
  2. SiteWorthTraffic,, organizational website, accessed December 18, 2019.
  3. The Progressive Magazine, The Progressive Magazine, publication Facebook page, accessed December 18, 2019.
  4. The Progressive, The Progressive, publication Twitter page, accessed December 18, 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Democracy Now!, "Madison-Based The Progressive Magazine Celebrates 100-Year Anniversary", Democracy Now!, May 1, 2019, accessed December 19, 2019.
  6. Anne-Marie Cusac, "Stunning Technology", Progressive, July 1, 1996, accessed December 19, 2019.
  7. Long Island University, Past George Polk Award Winners, 1996, university website, accessed December 19, 2019.
  8. Allan Nairn, "Behind the Death Squads: An exclusive report on the US role in El Salvador's official terror", History Is a Weapon, accessed December 19, 2019. (originally in The Progressive, May, 1984).
  9. 9.0 9.1 Howard Morland, "The H-bomb secret: To know how is to ask why", The Progressive, November 1919 issue, p. 3, accessed December 19, 2019.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Justia, "United States v. Progressive, Inc., 467 F. Supp. 990 (W.D. Wis. 1979)", Justia, March 28, 1979, accessed December 19, 2019.
  11. A. DeVolpi et al., "Born Secret: The H-Bomb, the Progressive Case, and National Security", Library of Congress, 1981, accessed December 19, 2019, pp.106-117.
  12. 12.0 12.1 James Baldwin, "A Letter to My Nephew", The Progressive, December 1, 1962, accessed December 19, 2019.
  13. The Progressive, About Us, publication website, accessed December 18, 2019.
  14. The Progressive, Op-Ed Writing Clinics, publication website, accessed December 18, 2019.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 The Progressive, About the Progressive Media Project, publication website, accessed December 18, 2019.
  16. The Progressive, [ Public School Shakedown], organizational website, accessed December 18, 2019.
  17. The Progressive, Meet Our Fellows, organizational website, accessed December 18, 2019.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Jeff Bryant, "Why We've Created The Progressive Education Fellows", The Progressive, September 21, 2015, accessed December 18, 2019.
  19. The Progressive, Inc., 2017 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed February 5, 2020.
  20. The Progressive, Inc., 2016 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed December 18, 2019.
  21. The Progressive, Inc., 2015 IRS Form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed December 18, 2019.
  22. 22.0 22.1 The Progressive, Staff & Board of Directors, publication website, accessed December 18, 2019.