American Journalism Review is Back and All Online

Back in July, the American Journalism Review, which is published by the University of Maryland’s Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, announced it would become a digital-only publication due to high production costs and readers who went straight to the Web for AJR stories.

Last week, the online magazine launched again with a new look and what they’re calling a fresh take on journalism commentary.

Merrill College Dean and AJR Publisher Lucy Dalglish said in a special note that “in these pages, you will find our students covering innovation and entrepreneurship from a digital “native’s” perspective” — that’s right, AJR‘s content is now going to be produced primarily by students under the supervision of three faculty members/AJR editors.

Given its nearly four-decade run and built-in audience of professional journalists and educators, the AJR is no dinky amateur publication; even with its decision to cease print publication and that its reporting on the state of journalism will be mostly produced by students and freelancers rather than staff writers, it appears that they’ve carefully thought through the redesign, and what AJR needs to be in the 21st century.

The reimagined home page of AJR and the magazine’s previous Web presence are like night and day — it’s now much cleaner, with a modernized logo and stories presented in a tile arrangement. The updated site’s debut content is smart, driving home the topics the journalism commentator seeks to focus on most, like digital storytelling and innovation in the ever-changing field of news. Reported pieces chronicling the value of GIFs in news, drone journalism and algorithmic, robot-created “journalism” cover AJR‘s site, as well as bloggy write-ups on issues like crowdfunding startups.

Personally, when AJR said it was ditching print, I had my doubts about its relevancy, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the publication can do through its small editorial staff and U of Maryland journalism students.

What do you think of AJR‘s new site? How important is journalism commentary as we approach 2014?