Welcome to Utne

Welcome to the new Utne Reader. With this issue, we’re unveiling a host of improvements that make the magazine more exciting to look at, more compelling to read, and more useful to you in making sense of the personal, political, and cultural challenges of our times.

We’ve redesigned, rearranged, and created new departments to do an even better job of fufilling our longtime mission:

• to deliver the freshest ideas and insights from important sources usually ignored by the major media;

• to draw attention to existing problems and opportunities out there in the world in a way that inspires discussion and action;

• to celebrate the people who, in ways both large and small, are making a difference in the lives of others; and

• to spread a bit more whimsy, joy, and laughter through the universe.

You’ll also see a new tagline on our cover–“A Different Read on Life”–that captures the spirit of the magazine. We are committed to bringing you the news, the wisdom, the practical steps, and the visionary thinking that is often missing from mainstream debate. This is in no way a retreat from bringing you “The Best of the Alternative Press” which is how we’ve described ourselves for the past 18 years. We will continue to reprint the most inspiring and informative articles we uncover from the more than 1,500 feisty publications streaming into our office.

Indeed, you will get a greater taste of alternative media than ever with the revamped Street Librarian column, media reviews in our expanded Utne Weeder section, and short profiles of fascinating publications at the end of articles and in special Behind the Story and Tell Me More boxes. At the same time, look for groundbreaking original articles in our pages as well as great stories reprinted from newly released books, provocative Internet sites, the international press, and other alternative news sources.

The redesign and reorganization of the magazine has been a long time in the making. Co-publisher Julie Ristau took charge of managing the process, and the search for the right designer stopped just a few steps from our front desk: at the office of our art director, Kristi Anderson.

Kristi had redesigned Utne Reader once before, in 1990, so she knew what she was getting into. Rolling up her sleeves and working closely with our chair, Nina Utne, Julie, the entire editorial staff, and her talented art department colleagues Jessica Coulter and Jennifer Dix, Kristi got down to the business of reflecting upon, reinterpreting, and eventually reinventing the visual appearance of the magazine in ways that make it easier for you to navigate. Nina and I saddled her with a nearly impossible goal–a magazine that evokes both timeless elegance and contemporary pizzazz. Kristi’s success at all of this can be seen right here in your hands. I think you’ll be as thrilled as we are with the magazine’s new look.

Long months of discussion also went into the changes you’ll find in how the articles are presented. We were committed to maintaining the essential character of the magazine but wanted to make it more accessible and valuable to you. Here’s a quick guide to all that’s new:

This is our new magazine-within-a-magazine, which briefs you on emerging ideas and issues in all fields, ranging from world politics to everyday life. Incorporating our arts, health, and practical “how-to” coverage into the trend-watch section that has always run at the front of the magazine, View will now open each issue with short, informative articles that help you understand the world and your place in it.

More Feature Stories:
We’re adding more in-depth features to each issue. Look for essays on progressive patriotism, and George Orwell’s lessons for today.

Utne Weeder:
An expanded Weeder now gives you ardent recommendations from our staff about the best in music, books, magazines, Web sites, and more.

Utne‘s Readers:
On our back page, we will honor one or more of our readers for what they bring to the world. We welcome your nominations.

This eclectic mix of personal stories, lyrical essays, impassioned rants, weird revelations, humor, and other offbeat offerings moves to the back of the magazine.

And as you’ve probably noticed, we’ve changed the name of the magazine. We dropped “Reader” from the cover out of the conviction that as a magazine we are not simply about reading but also about thinking, acting, and connecting with the rest of the world. (For more about the name change, see Nina Utne’s Heartland column.)

I hope these changes stir as much excitement in you as they have in everyone here. Let us know what you think.

In-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.