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Three years into nonprofit ownership, The Philadelphia Inquirer is still trying to chart its future
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March 17, 2009, 3:30 a.m.

The Lab gets a facelift; rumors of future liposuction still unconfirmed

You’ll notice a few changes around the Lab today, hopefully all for the better. My thanks to our friends at Upstatement, a Boston web-design agency with lots of newspaper ties, for their work on this refresh.

Perhaps the most subtle change is staring you in the face: our logo above.

Our official nom de blog is the Nieman Journalism Lab. We’ll also answer to Nieman Lab or NiemanLab, which is after all our web address and Twitter account name. But among the many permutations we’ve seen online (Nieman Labs, Neiman Lab, Nieman J-Lab, Neiman Marcus, etc.), the most vexing is the surprisingly common NiemanJournalismLab, allonewordrunningtogether.

That’s purely the fault of my little logo, which crunched all the words together without intending to imply it was one long word. So now there are wee small spaces between the words, and “Journalism” is hued a touch. Plus, much better kerning. I feel better already.

In the sidebar, you’ll see we have a new “Featured” panel, where we’ll be able to highlight some recent posts we think are worthy of note — even after they’ve drifted off the bottom of the front page. Click the little arrows; they do what you’d think they do.

Regular readers will note that, through a combination of laziness and poor technical planning, that part of the sidebar — ironically entitled “Recently in the Lab” — had been stuck promoting on the same three stories since October. I liked seeing John Hodgman and the Mad Men logo as much as anyone, but it was time for them to go.

Some other changes that will be apparent to the careful reader:

— When we launched back in October, our philosophy was to “speak with one voice” — that is, we wanted the Lab’s identity to trump the individual authors’. As a result, the writer of each post was buried in small print at the post’s bottom. But when we added our new bloggers and their perspectives to the mix, that became more difficult. So we’ve moved up the byline to just below the headline on each post to make it clear who you’re reading.

— On individual story pages, you’ll also see we’ve separated out trackbacks from comments. That should make it easier to follow the conversations around each post.

— On the right side of those story pages, underneath the sidebar, you’ll see links to a few related posts from our archives.

— There’s a new sharing tool on each story page (at the bottom of the post) that will let you easily email a link to friends, post it on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, or whatever other site your social little heart desires.

— In the header you’ll see we added Twitter to our top navigation menu. More on that later.

— Our archives page got a big cleanup. (I hope you were never confronted by the tangled tag spray that was there before.)

— At the bottom of every page (and on our about page), you’ll see notice that we’re releasing all of our posts under a Creative Commons license. That means you are free to reprint, translate, or otherwise transform what you see here, so long as you do so noncommercially and you give us credit. We’ve already had several requests along those lines; now you can take our permission for granted. (And if you do have a commercial purpose in mind, like reprinting one of our pieces in a newspaper or magazine, get in touch — we’re usually pretty cooperative.)

There are some other changes under the hood that you’ll see rolled out in the coming days and weeks. We’ll have some more flexibility in how we present different types of posts, for instance.

In the meantime, let us know if anything doesn’t look right, if you have any suggestions, or if you just want to say hey.

POSTED     March 17, 2009, 3:30 a.m.
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