Katrina vanden Heuvel talks about The Nation as an institution in American journalism.
Question: What kind of magazine is The Nation?
vanden Heuvel: I think of The Nation Magazine as the anchor, but I do think of The Nation now as a multimedia enterprise. We have a website which brings 2 million people to thenation.com every month. We are investing resources. We have bloggers who don’t write for the magazine but who are writing for the website exclusively, and I think that will be important for the future, because, as I said, so many younger readers are reading on the internet. To me, what’s important is that our ideas are out there, and if it’s in the platform of the internet, so be it, but the magazine then becomes a vehicle also for the deeper essays which we do, the deeper investigative reporting, and it allows us, for example, with the report we did a few weeks ago on militia violence in New Orleans after the Hurricane Katrina to then put primary documents on the internet to deepen that story. We are doing radio and podcasts, and we are doing weekly video report, whether it’s one of the editors talking about a story they’ve edited, a writer talking about how they’ve investigated a piece and events which we then video. We did an emergency Town Hall meeting around the economic crisis at the end of last year with Naomi Klein and William Greider. We put that out there. So there’s a multimedia sensibility, but always revolving around the core ideas in the reporting mission of the magazine.
Question: How do you approach advertising?
vanden Heuvel: One thing about the internet, if I might add, is that it allows us also to tap into the community of The Nation, which is broad and broadening, and we have 38 discussion groups run by Nation readers around this country, and the internet allows us to be in touch with them, telling them questions, giving them questions and ideas. So, it’s a way of connecting to a community out there, but the ad policy of The Nation, interestingly, was crafted maybe 20 years ago by the former director of the ACLU. We always err on the side of free speech and, in that context, we are very clear that we will publish ads we don’t agree with, and we do so in the service of publishing ideas these companies might not agree with, not that we get big corporate ads. The Nation has never been ad supported like Conde Nast or some of the other major magazine corporations, but we have run over the years ads which readers disagree with, ranging from the writer Lillian Hellman doing a black llama fur ad many years ago, many years ago, maybe  years ago, which prompted a lot of animal rights activists to protest, to ads, public service ads or public promotional ads, public affairs ads which prompt readers to get very involved in the politics of those ads and send angry letters. We run [BP] ads, the oil company. We run cigarette ads, and those prompt angry letters and we publish our ad policy every few months, and it’s online, which is also related to the question of how we run ads on the web, so that ad policy is there for readers to understand what we’re doing.