The Nation was founded 150 years ago today by a small group of abolitionists centered in and around Boston and New York City, who distributed the first issue to curious friends by hand.
Today, The Nation publishes about 70 articles a week online, which go out to more than 420,000 Twitter followers, almost 290,000 Facebook fans, and 200,000 e-mail subscribers.
All this data can be overwhelming and, for some publications, even dispiriting. It's become an industry cliché to lament how the Internet rewards content mills that churn out the equivalent of digital fast food. But here at The Nation, the exact opposite has proved true: The more we learn about our readers, the more inspired we are to create great journalism for them. The digital revolution has empowered our single greatest asset—The Nation's readers—and you've responded by sharing our best work with millions of new readers every month.
That's why, today—exactly 150 years after the publication of our first issue—we're relaunching TheNation.com. The new site, created in partnership with Blue State Digital and Diaspark, represents our commitment to being at the forefront of independent journalism for the next generation. The article template is designed with the Nation ambassador in mind: Beautiful, clear fonts (Mercury and Knockout) and a variety of image fields make the articles a joy to read—on desktop, tablet, and mobile. Prominent share tools, Twitter quotes, and a "highlight to e-mail/tweet" function make it easy to share them with others.
Meanwhile, the home page doubles down on The Nation's identity as a magazine of ideas and values. A variety of new tools allows us to showcase not just today's top stories, but the depth of our coverage and archive. Related pieces will be grouped together to help readers understand the political and historical context of today's crises. You might find, for example, an editorial calling on candidates to refuse to accept money from fossil-fuel companies paired with groundbreaking essays by Naomi Klein and Chris Hayes, along with a petition cosponsored by our friends at 350 Action.
You'll notice a few more changes as well. For the next few months, there's no paywall: All of our articles will be free to everyone—our gift to you in The Nation's 150th-anniversary year. Later, we'll introduce a metered system that continues to put The Nation in front of new readers, but also asks our regular visitors to contribute to the cost of independent journalism. Finally, only subscribers will be able to leave comments—and they'll be asked to identify themselves with a first and last name. We think it's only fair that commenters stand by what they write, and give something to the community in return.