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The Nation launches new site built on Drupal, emphasizing community

The Nation magazine launched a much-improved new website that is built on an open-source platform and features a more flexible and community-oriented design. The redesign features innovations like search-engine friendly “topic” pages, story-level twitter feeds and instantly-customizable homepage and section front designs. A new community section lets readers vote articles up or down and enables readers to participate in the editorial process with new crowd-sourcing initiatives. The new platform, built using the open-source software “Drupal,” enables Nation editors to respond more quickly to breaking news and gives the business staff flexibility to quickly configure customizable, innovative campaigns for advertisers and marketers.

“Its 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,” said Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher of The Nation, said in announcing the new site.

“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.”

Some of The Nation’s content has been behind a paywall and will remain so, but the magazine is not increasing the amount behind that paywall right now. Vanden Heuvel says the focus for now is on developing special online benefits to spur subscriptions and add features that make using TheNation.com a richer experience.

The platform was developed by Phase Two technologies, which recently built a new system for The White House. The project was led by the strategic digital consultancy The Osder Group, whose recent projects include ProPublica.org, The Daily Beast and TakePart.com.

The Osder Group emphasized community and activism throughout The Nation’s redesign. The new community section aggregates content like reader comments, letters, polls and sharing tools.” This summer The Nation will introduce a feature where site users can initiate their own activism campaigns online.

The redesign also expands and highlights sharing tools to the growing number of online social networks, which now drive more than 30% of The Nation’s traffic. The magazine’s Twitter feed, @thenation, has more than 40,000 followers and has received critical acclaim, recently winning the “Shorty” Award in politics for short form journalism.

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