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Alaska Dispatch launches new site with Drupal, Open Publish

by Jeff Diecks
February 21, 2011

Alaska Dispatch launched its new website today using Drupal and Open Publish. The online news site, founded by journalists and majority-owned by former U.S. News and World Report CFO Alice Rogoff, received a complete redesign and migration from Joomla. Mediacurrent joined the Alaska Dispatch team to assist with the final phases of the project.

Alaska Dispatch, established in 2008 by journalists Tony Hopfinger and Amanda Coyne, has received international recognition for its dedication to chasing down major news affecting the Last Frontier. The owners of Alaska Dispatch believe they are paving the way nationally for what will be the future of online journalism -- locally produced stories presented on for-profit websites.

To support this mission, the new site features an updated design, upgraded content management tools from Open Publish, and faster performance with Drupal-tuned hosting from Acquia.

"Today is a great day for Alaska Dispatch, thanks to all of the hard work of Mediacurrent's developers," said Hopfinger, the site's editor. "Not only did Mediacurrent develop both a slick frontend and backend Drupal platform for our online news site, they also increased our loading speeds and improved the site's performance. We look forward to working with Mediacurrent on the next phase of development for Alaska Dispatch."

Mediacurrent’s role in launching the new site included:


  • Custom configurations in Open Publish to streamline the editors' workflow, including an image management solution built using node relationships and views.
  • Performance tuning to optimize the site for Acquia’s hosting environment, including: Pressflow, varnish, authcache, aggressive caching and Acquia search.
  • Custom tools and rules-based actions for clearing cache of specific pages on demand when content updates are made on the site.
  • Final adjustments to the Dispatch team's Drupal theme to implement the new design and improve browser compatibility.

Early returns on the launch include page load speeds more than 2 seconds faster than the previous site and positive reviews of the new publishing tools from the newsroom. The launch comes just in time for Alaska Dispatch's round-the-clock coverage of the 2011 Iditarod race. With the launch completed, we look forward to gradually adding more enhancements to the site. Stay tuned...

Meet team member, Jeff Diecks

A veteran of the web publishing and sports media industries, Jeff draws on his extensive project management, business analysis, and site building experience to lead professional services and client delivery at Mediacurrent. An active member of the Drupal community, Jeff organizes events for his local Louisiana Drupal Users Group and Drupalcamp New Orleans.

Jeff joined Mediacurrent in 2010 after 11 years with Turner Broadcasting Systems in Atlanta, GA. In his previous position as Director of Operations at Turner Sports New Media, his team managed technical operations for NASCAR.COM and initiated Turner’s adoption of Drupal. Jeff’s other roles at Turner included Director of Editorial Operations, Project Manager and Producer at CNN/Sports Illustrated Interactive. Prior to joining Turner, he served as Website Manager for Major League Soccer in New York, and was responsible for the league site's design, maintenance and content publishing.

Jeff lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with his wife and daughter. On nice-weather days he can be found working from a table in his backyard with his yellow lab, Murray.

Learn more about Jeff >

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