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New Monday features help readers look ahead

March 28, 2009

There's more to look forward to on Mondays.

We have a couple of new regular features in The Herald-Mail each Monday.

One is a two-part calendar to help readers get ready for the week ahead. Portions of the first page of both the sports and health sections are devoted to the idea of letting you know what is happening for the next seven days.

The sports calendar has the details about upcoming local games and matches of significance and better yet will tell you why these contests matter.

But it's not only about local sports, it's also about leagues and games that cut across geographical areas.

If you want to know what's up in the NCAA basketball tournaments, the calendar will offer a clue. The Major League Baseball season is opening soon, and tomorrow's calendar will have details.

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The calendar on the health page covers community events, entertainment, government meetings and more -- depending on what is going on during a given week.

If the Hagerstown City Council has a big agenda item, details will be in this calendar. If an election is coming up, the date and details will be in the calendar. If you want to go to the Ali Ghan Shriners Circus next week, check tomorrow's calendar for details.

These Monday calendars showcase highlights from THECalendar -- The Herald-Mail's new one-stop, online community calendar. Events can be submitted online or sent to The Herald-Mail (the address is on page A2) in care of the newsroom.

While the calendars look ahead, another new Monday feature turns back the clock a week. If you haven't seen it yet, check out tomorrow's newspaper to see the top 10 stories from the previous week. Posting stories at www.herald-mail.com allows us to track the number of times each story is viewed online. We track the top 10 each week and run that information on page A2 each Monday.

It's handy for readers to see the big stories they might have missed, and it's fascinating to see what other people find interesting.

The top 10 is good for Herald-Mail editors, too. While we have oodles of information about readership habits, much of it is broken into fairly broad categories. Surveys have shown us that Herald-Mail readers want local news and lots of it. The same surveys have revealed there's high interest in information about things to do and places to go. That's one reason we've added calendars to Monday's newspaper.

But the top 10 list offers story-specific information that editors can check to see if we're properly attuned to what readers want to know.

If a story makes the top 10, it also should have been on the front page of the newspaper. I've seen that we usually make the right call about story placement, but we miss one now and then. So beyond its surface purpose, the top 10 list will help us design a newspaper that best resonates with readers.

Jake Womer is executive editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733,5131, ext. 7594, or by e-mail at jakew@herald-mail.com.

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