Screenshot from SunNation.co.uk
The Sun launched a free politics website called SunNation today, which aims to make politics fun with engaging and shareable stories.
As the latest addition to the Sun family, SunNation wants to be "loud and disruptive" online during the upcoming election campaign in May, said Sun website editor Tim Gatt, by publishing interactives, lists and comment pieces among other story styles.
"The website has something that can appeal to people of any political persuasion and we want to appeal to as big an audience as possible," Gatt explained.
He added that politics can sometimes be quite difficult to engage with, and SunNation is an experiment to turn this around during the election and the potential talks about forming a coalition that might follow.
"We're not trying to be competing with other breaking news channels, the 24/7 coverage, we're trying to focus on a key section of stories and tell them in a shareable manner."
The site wants to make the most of the online interest in engaging stories that are at the same time informative and backed by news, said Gatt.
Today's launch was accompanied by a video offering an insight into Prime Minister David Cameron's Downing Street, a look at the "weird mystery" of Grant Shapps's middle name, and a variety of games and lists, for example.
While SunNation is outside the Sun's paywall, at least for now, its team is working closely with the Sun newsdesk as well as the video and graphics teams among others.
Video by SunNation, from The Sun on YouTube.
Gatt said this was a two-way relationship, with SunNation re-purposing stories from the newspaper or TheSun.co.uk and generating its own stories, like the Shapps piece today.
"That could be [re-purposed] stories which we know are coming for the next day or that may have already appeared in that day's paper," he explained.
The site also features the YouGov election poll on the front page, and Gatt said the team will be looking at ways to respond to any changes in its results that might come up.
He explained that people will already be sharing the poll findings, and the Sun writes stories around it, so SunNation aims what else can be added to the conversation.
The Sun isn't the only UK media outlet to launch a site looking exclusively at elections – last year, the New Statesman opened the doors to its data-focussed election portal May2015, for example.
Alongside quizzes, games, and lists, SunNation also features a social media section where the team curates posts from social networks in conjunction with Storyful.
"There is a lot of noise on Twitter and sometimes it's very hard to work out the key things going on," said Gatt, adding that the social stream was not designed as a comprehensive list of accounts but acted more as a filter.
"Our readers would appreciate editorial guidance on what is going on on social media," he said.
The curation is also designed to build a sense of immediacy for its readers, as the site isn't exactly chasing breaking news but still wants to appeal to a wide audience.
"They may not always agree with us but I think they'll still want to come back and see what we're up to," said Gatt.
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