Seven months have passed since The New Republic radically redesigned its print edition and switched to a biweekly publication schedule. Now, editor Franklin Foer says it’s time for the Web site to change as well.
In an interview yesterday, Mr. Foer said that the new TNR.com will launch on Tuesday, October 23rd*; the redesign, he said, will give more play to blogs and web-only stories, and provide users with better "navigability" and "many more places to go out of each page."
"The most significant change is the way in which it sells blog items,” Mr. Foer said. “The blogs are very prominently promoted in the new design. The home page is kind of covered with them."
The new site was built by Toronto-based Sidewalk Studios in conjunction with IT specialists from CanWest, the Canadian media conglomerate that bought the magazine in February. According to Mr. Foer, Sidewalk Studios is handling design while CanWest is supplying the back-end.
Mr. Foer said CanWest expressed an urgent interest in redesigning the site as soon as they took control of TNR, and that he felt the same way when he became editor-in-chief in February 2006.
"It was long overdue," he said.
Indeed, the redesign was originally slated for April, but the only thing TNR managed to change at that time was the logo at the top of the page. "It was delayed," Mr. Foer said in an e-mail. "Web redesigns—like book leaves or peace negotiations—always take longer than you initially estimate."
Overseeing the new Web site will be online editor Ben Wasserstein, a former associate editor for New York magazine who Mr. Foer hired over the summer. Mr. Wasserstein will soon be joined by Greg Vies, who is leaving GQ to become TNR‘s deputy online editor.
The staff of the magazine will celebrate the launch of the new site this Tuesday night with a cocktail reception hosted by Mr. Foer and TNR publisher Elizabeth Sheldon.
According to a memo to staff sent out yesterday, CanWest chief Dennis Skulsky will deliver a short address immediately beforehand. Other higher-ups—including Leonard Asper, president and CEO of CanWest Global, and Greg MacNeil, a CanWest consultant who served briefly as TNR‘s interim publisher—will be there too, and will remain in town through the 24th, according to the memo, for "all day meetings in the conference room" at the TNR offices.
* Note: This post has been updated since going online. Mr. Foer had orginally told The Observer that the redesigned site would launch next Wednesday October 24th. After the post appeared, he contacted us to say he had misspoken about the date.