John Shuttleworth, Founder of Mother Earth News, Interview Part II

A Plowboy Interview with Shuttleworth, who discusses everything from the business of the magazine industry to predicting the future of society.

| March/April 1975


John and Jane Shuttleworth started MOTHER EARTH NEWS in 1970.


Five years ago, with only $1,500 in operating capital and a kitchen table to work on, John and Jane Shuttleworth founded The MOTHER EARTH NEWS. The publication has since grown into a circulation of 250,000 and has "spunoff" a mail-order general store, a syndicated newspaper column, a syndicated. radio program, and several environmentally oriented research projects.  

But why? Why did the Shuttleworth's found MOTHER EARTH NEWS in the first place? And why has the magazine grown so lustily during a period that has seen many other environmental and alternatives publications come and go? And where is MOTHER EARTH NEWS headed now? And why?  

John Shuttleworth answered some of those questions in the first half of our two-part interview. Now, in the closing portion of that interview, he gives away more of the secrets of MOTHER EARTH NEWS success.  

Shuttleworth next explains how anyone he says can predict the future with accuracy and names some of the people whom he feels have done so in the past. He then closes by listing some of his own rather black forecasts ... and the steps he feels we must take immediately if we expect to save ourselves, humanity, and the planet during the cataclysmic times he sees lying just ahead.  

John, you've evaded the question long enough. Just what is "positioning"? And how have you used it to make MOTHER EARTH NEWS grow so rapidly during the past five years years that have seen a great number of other — and often far better financed — environmental and alternatives publications come and go? 

All right. Here's where we strike a small blow against what the American system has become and for what it's supposed to be. Because the way I used positioning was by not using it at all. I used "identity" instead.

marc davis
7/2/2008 10:03:49 AM

Thank you for the articles with John Shuttleworth, they were informative. But he never really mentioned starting the magazine in Madison, Ohio. I have recently met a man that worked at MEN when it was founded in Madison and he has all the issues ever printed. I am sort of a history buff and thought it was interesting to know the history of your magazine and the history of my home town.

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