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New guide puts readers in the Loop

June 26, 2006|by TERRY HEADLEE

Loop.

Are you in?

We are hopeful many of our readers will get in the loop when we unveil our new and improved weekly entertainment guide on Thursday.

At that time, we will be retiring the section you have come to know as "Out and About" and replace it with Loop.

Out and About made its debut in March 2001 and at the time, we received a lot of positive reaction from readers for the many changes that we made.

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This time around, I believe many of you will be just as pleased with the improvements you'll find in our new entertainment guide.

The first thing you will notice is that it will be thicker - we're expanding it from 12 to 24 pages.

It also will be more colorful. At this time, we plan to print color on every page.

We also will be playing around with some ambitious design concepts so the pages will be more visually appealing.

Our calendar listing, which summarizes places to go and things to do throughout the Tri-State area, will be expanded and easier to navigate.

Until now, we have always organized our events calendar by topic - such as festivals, exhibits and theater. Starting Thursday, the events will be listed by date so you will be able to easily find an activity you want to do on a specific date.

We also will have an electronic version of our calendar on our Web site that will be searchable by topic, date or even by word. Be sure to check that out.

Our "After Hours" listing that appeared on Fridays will be renamed "Night Life" and moved to Loop on Thursdays. This is the list of bands and DJs performing at various local taverns and restaurants.

We also are adding a weekly CD review feature to complement our current DVD reviews.

For the first time, we also will provide a dining guide of area restaurants that will feature their locations and phone numbers. An online version will provide additional information.

We also will feature a "Dish of the Week" or a "Drink of the Week" within the dining guide. The two features will alternate each week. In Thursday's edition, we will take a look at a "Dish of the Week" from Flannery's Tavern on the Square in Mercersburg, Pa.

There are some things that won't change.

For example, we plan to keep the weekly section as a tabloid, since the format was such a hit when we presented it to reader focus groups five years ago.

We also will continue to publish a weekly cover story that will give more depth and detail on a particular topic or event. The cover story that will grace the cover of the first edition will be the annual Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield. Other stories will include a roundup of fireworks in the Tri-State area and the Winston Link exhibit at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.

A lot of time and energy went into this product. A committee made up of newsroom and advertising staff members met almost weekly for three months starting in early February to develop this new section. Prototypes were developed, and readers were surveyed at various locations, including Valley Mall, Hagerstown Community College and Borders.

Much of their reaction was positive. Some final changes were made in May, and we began promoting the product within the paper and on television earlier this month.

Loop will be different in many ways from Out and About, but I think the changes make it a better product for you - our readers.




Terry Headlee is executive editor of The Herald-Mail. He may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7594, or by e-mail at terryh@herald-mail.com.

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