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Going Digital, Staying True | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Going Digital, Staying True

Here at The Nation we've been engaged in an ongoing conversation about how journalism is changing, and how we need to change along with it. There's no doubt that print journalism must embrace new platforms and new technologies if we expect to both survive and make an impact. The real question is how. How can The Nation embrace the changes roiling our industry and still stay true to the values which have kept us strong for 145 years?

What we've decided to do is go for it. You're reading this column on the newest iteration of TheNation.com, just launched today -- maybe you're even reading it on your smartphone. It is now far more likely you found us on Twitter than in a bookstore, and you might be following my blog from anywhere in the world. We're not afraid of new platforms, and we're going to embrace the many opportunities they present.

What we're trying to do on those platforms, however, is something a little different -- and something I hope can chart a course forward for independent journalism in the digital age. We're trying to adapt these new media tools to amplify our unique form of journalism: investigative reporting that speaks truth to power; informed opinion journalism; critical analysis of politics and news; and lively, intelligent coverage of books, culture and the arts. In short: whether its a 140-character tweet, a blog post on your iPhone or the cover story in the latest print edition, we're committed to first-class, fact-checked, well-edited independent journalism. As the logo at the top of the page notes, we've been providing "unconventional wisdom" since 1865, and we're not stopping now.

Our re-tooled website, TheNation.com, has new navigation and design, vastly more multimedia, a major activist component, a robust community section and two new bloggers -  Jeremy Scahill and Greg Mitchell. The website is also now more in synch with our politics: we've switched to the open-source platform "Drupal." (Read "The Nation Goes Open Source".) What this new platform means practically is that we're able to respond faster to breaking news, and that we have the technical power and capacity to "package" and present our major investigations in a more compelling way.

Our new iPad (iPhone-friendly) app was released last week. It's the first of several apps from The Nation, and it's already in the top 300 best-selling paid apps internationally. The app has been sold in over 20 countries, and offers a great opportunity for us to convey our values and principles to a broader audience worldwide.

Our twitter feed, @thenation, already won the "Shorty Award" for best political tweeting, and we're just moments away from hitting 40,000 followers. We're proud that our feed is a place where you can follow the broader progressive community and our independent media allies as well as The Nation, and where we can weigh in on breaking news, as it happens. The website redesign also incorporates Twitter feeds -- which allow you to read an article here at TheNation.com and watch the subsequent conversation unfold on Twitter without leaving the page!

We're also moving ahead with expanded multimedia content. In late May, we'll be starting a new arrangement with GRIT TV with Laura Flanders to sponsor their Monday program, "The Nation on GRIT TV." You can watch the program in full, or you can watch it in segments, rotated throughout the week on TheNation.com as a full calendar of video commentaries, conversations and field reports about Nation articles. Video is an increasingly powerful platform to share our investigations and commentary - this new partnership with GRIT means that we'll be able to provide a steady, professionally-produced calendar of quality video features online.

Finally, each of these new innovations are an opportunity for you to be more involved than ever. The website has been built to support activism and community engagement. The new community section lets you vote articles up or down, aggregates web letters, sharing tools and user comments, and allows readers to participate in the editorial process with our new crowd-sourcing initiatives. Soon we'll be launching a new tool where you can initiate your own activism campaign via TheNation.com. I hope that we've built you a platform where you can engage meaningfully with the broader Nation community, in ways you'll enjoy.

Like other similar magazines, some of our premium content is behind a paywall, but at this point we are not increasing the volume of paid content. Our focus right now is on developing special online benefits to spur subscriptions and add features that make using TheNation.com a richer experience. Our form of journalism requires real financial support, but it's our belief that if we continue to produce high-quality journalism while facilitating a vibrant community online, you will continue to support us -- as you have for 145 years -- as subscribers, as Nation Associates or as one of the thousands who email, tweet, recommend and share our articles every day.

Embracing change isn't easy, but The Nation and the media landscape have changed too much to look back now. What's critical - and what we're trying to do at The Nation - is move online in an intelligent way that keeps true to the 145-year old spirit of our magazine. I want to thank you for figuring it out with us, and for coming along for the ride.

Note: If you get lost in the new site or want a more specific guide to the changes we've implemented, click here to read our new site welcome and watch a short video guide. You can also view a slideshow, TheNation.com's 15 Biggest Stories, here.

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