Imagine doing a top-to-bottom gut rehab of your home, then inviting everyone you’ve ever known over for an open house. That pretty much describes the mixture of pride and trepidation we feel in launching the newly-redesigned washingtonmonthly.com. As you’ll see, the site’s got more content, better functionality, and a whole new look and feel. One thing, though, hasn’t changed: Steve Benen’s Political Animal blog still has pride of place on the front page.
Our main aim in this redesign is to bring you new voices that complement Steve’s and that build on the 40-plus-year mission of the Washington Monthly magazine. To that end, we’ve added a new blog, Ten Miles Square, that will feature posts from our staff, from longtime Washington Monthly contributors, and from a category of scholars we think deserve a bigger voice in American journalism: political scientists.
Certain kinds of academics—economists, presidential historians–have long enjoyed platforms in the media from which to use their specialized knowledge to illuminate the news of the day. Curiously, that hasn’t been the case with political scientists, even though it’s hard to think of a scholarly pursuit that is, or ought to be, more relevant. The fault, I think, has been as much with the academics as with the press. For too long, political scientists have been more interested in crafting theoretical models and writing for each other than in engaging with the broader public. But there’s a new generation of political scientists and public policy academics out there who are far more focused on exploring and explaining the real world of politics and government, and some of them know how to blog. We’ll be cross-posting their work on a daily basis.
This new site also includes some key functions the old one frustratingly lacked. You can comment on articles as well as blog posts, create social networking links to individual posts, receive full RSS feeds, easily search the entire site, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We’ll be adding new features and tweaking the design as time goes on, so if you have opinions (good or bad) about the new site, or ideas for how to make it better, please email them to us at Editors@WashingtonMonthly.com or leave a comment below.
We want to express our gratitude to the many readers who answered Steve’s call to contribute money for the new site. We could not have built it without your generosity. Thanks also to our friends at the Lumina Foundation, especially Jamie Merisotis and Kevin Corcoran, for their early and crucial support for this project. In addition, we’re grateful to Alissa Levin, Benjamin Levine, Michael Murphy, and their colleagues at Point Five Design for their stellar work putting this site together and to Carl Iseli and Daniel Luzer at the Washington Monthly for ably guiding the process on our end.
Enjoy the site!
UPDATE: We did a “soft launch” of the site this weekend, while traffic was low, hoping our weekend readers would catch problems we hadn’t, and indeed they did. In response, our tech team has been working nearly nonstop all weekend dealing with some of the most common complaints. For example, the left margin of Steve’s blog was so close to the edge that the first letters were not viewable on certain browsers. So we’ve added buffer space to the left margin; if that hasn’t done the trick let us know. We’ve also dialed back the gray background and darkened the type in the comments section. That should help with readability. We’ll be addressing some other concerns people have expressed as best we can in the days and weeks ahead. Meanwhile, keep those cards and letters coming.
UPDATE II: Our tech team’s efforts continue. The Facebook share buttons now work as they’re supposed to. Ten Mile Square posts now have bylines at the top as well as the bottom. And the comment error message is now written in language that should be more understandable to readers. More fixes to come.
UPDATE III: The preview function in comments is restored. Phew.