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Features debut this week in The Morning Herald

February 26, 2001

Features debut this week in The Morning Herald



Today marks a new era with The Morning Herald newspaper. Your newspaper will take on a different look and have numerous new features.

Some of the changes are major while others are more subtle.

But one thing that all of the changes have in common is that they are reader driven.

You wanted your paper to be easier to read. You thought we could do better with providing you information about education. You also wanted more briefs and graphics and thought we could do better in providing you with more information on family-oriented activities.

We took the results from a major readership survey and split into various committees that examined how we could improve the paper. For example, one group developed a new page devoted to education news while another group proposed expanding Tri-State area activities into a weekly tabloid. The prototypes were eventually reviewed by four different focus groups. More changes were made.

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A lot of time, work and thought went into what we developed. We took a hard look at our content and how we deliver it to you.

Here are some of the major changes you will see starting today:

Page one redesign - We've made it easier for you to find significant local stories that appear elsewhere in the newspaper by running more briefs down the left-hand side of the paper. Other changes include the use of more colorful icons to identify what the story is about. For example, we plan to use a red apple with each education-related story. Each story will also have a geographic identifier above the headline and a short outtake that quickly summarizes what the story is about.

You should also know that we had considered changing the appearance of the flag (it's also referred by some as the masthead and simply says The Morning Herald at the top of the front page). The proposal was so disliked by all four focus groups that saw it last November that we quickly canceled the idea. They did, however, like the idea of incorporating the names of all three states above the flag.

Education page - Every Monday we will devote an entire page of education-related news and information aimed at parents.

This page is replacing the weekly "Coping" page. The new page will be anchored each week with an education-related story focused on the Tri-State area. Depending on the week, we plan to run graphics, listings of Tri-State area phone numbers and meeting times for school boards, information on individual schools and Q&As of educators, parents and teachers. There also will be school-related briefs and other items of local interest.

In addition, we will run calendars of Tri-State area school systems the first Monday of every month from August to May. The first calendar will appear next Monday.

E-mail addresses - All of our regular staff writers and any editor that writes a column will have his e-mail address included in every story. For the reporters it will appear under their bylines. For editors, it will appear at the end of their columns. We hope you use this to let us know if we did a good job on a story, if you think we blew it, or if you have any ideas for stories you think we should pursue.

Daily Break - On Mondays through Saturdays we have combined a lot of our popular daily features, such as Ann Landers, Hints from Heloise, Horoscope and the Bridge column onto one page to be called "Daily Break.''

We also have moved the crossword puzzle from the comics page to this page. The hole left on the comics page is being filled with a word game called "Seek and Find.'' You should know that the crossword puzzle on the Daily Break page has been strategically placed in the upper right-hand corner so that if you fold you newspaper into quarters you can easily work it on your breakfast table as you enjoy your morning coffee.

Health - Our Monday Health section will still bear the same name, but there will be a heavy emphasis on keeping the stories related to health and fitness. We tinkered with the idea of adding more regular features that were beauty-related, such as makeovers, but that idea was met with a cool response by focus groups that saw the original prototypes.

Community news - Until now, all of our listings for club news, reunions, support groups and fund-raisers have been scattered in the newspaper on various days. Not anymore. Every Tuesday, we will run all the listings on one page called "Community" for easy reference.

Out and About - Probably the most significant change to the paper will be in the edition you will be opening on Thursday. Our "Weekend" section is being replaced with a tabloid that has been renamed "Out and About.'' It is an expanded version of what we already do now on Thursdays in our Lifestyle section, but will include, among other things, more locally written stories on family-oriented activities. This is still the section where you will find our easy-to-ready movie guide and places to go and things to do in the Tri-State area.

Family - Our Friday Lifestyle section is being renamed "Family" as we refocus our efforts on stories that are relevant to families. We will run more briefs on parenting information, broken into age groups for easier reference

So that is a quick glimpse of the changes being made. We hope you like the improvements.

If you like what you see or if you think we can do something better I'd like to hear from you. You can call me at 301-733-5131 ext. 7594 (1-800-626-6397 if you are calling from Pennsylvania or West Virginia). My e-mail address is terryh@herald-mail.com.

- Terry Headlee is the executive editor of The Herald-Mail.

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