Last updated: November 11. 2013 12:10AM - 3959 Views
By - gspohr@timesleader.com

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Dear readers,

Today’s Times Leader marks the launch of new sections, new comics and new puzzles.

The new sections will feature stories from writers and columnists who live, work and play in our community. Gone are cover stories from far-flung places.

• Monday is “History,” a section exploring our region’s past. We’ll be featuring profiles of veterans, telling stories about where we’ve come from and revisit times past.

• Tuesday continues to be “Health,” but it has a new focus on local topics. We’ll be reaching out to experts in the area to help you live a better life.

• Wednesday continues to be “Taste,” but also has a new local focus. We’re going to write about culinary arts and explore the area’s wining and dining scene.

• Thursday is “Folks & Family,” which focuses on faith, family time and people in the community.

• Friday continues to be “The Guide.”

• Saturday is “Close to Home,” which runs the gamut from home improvement and gardening to hobbies like arts and crafts.

• Sunday is “Flair,” which stands for Fashion, Literature, Arts, Inspiration and Relaxation.

Inside each section? The same birthdays, community photos and community news we’ve always run.

New to our feature sections is “WhassupNEPA,” a playful name for our listings of area events. So much happens here over the course of a week that it’s often hard to know what to do and when. We take some of that guesswork out of the equation by focusing on five events each day that are worth your time.

These changes are being made in tandem with some design tweaks aimed at improving how our paper looks. Many of these changes are minor — like improving the top of each page to make it more readable — while others are more substantial, including redesigned Opinion pages and a new reader’s guide to Times Leader contacts on Page A2.

Today’s paper means we’re changing our line-up of comics and puzzles. Jim Krumel, a colleague within our parent company who helped spearhead these changes, describes four of the new additions:

• “Rhymes with Orange” is targeted to the under-40 reader. With insightful wit, it spoofs everyday contemporary life. Without regular characters, creator Hilary Price uses everything from dogs and cats to charts and graphs to comment on the world today. “Rhymes with Orange” recently was named the best newspaper panel cartoon in the country.

• “Baby Blues” chronicles the trials and tribulations of parenthood, ranging from temper tantrums and dirty diapers to teething pains and sleepless nights. Its creator, King Features cartoonist Rick Kirkman, won the Reuben Award for “Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year.”

• “The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee.” In an age when we are bombarded with information and a 24-hour news cycle, Edison Lee offers a disarming view of our world through the eyes of a child who is both a brilliant genius and an eternal optimist.

• “Retail” is the first-ever syndicated comic strip to focus solely on this service sector. It presents a hilarious look at the retail industry by chronicling the daily events at the fictitious Grumbel’s department store.

We’re making these changes because we decided to work with one provider of that content, King Features, instead of the half-dozen we had been using. In many cases, we’re swapping out one provider of content, like our Sudoku puzzle, with an equivalent from King Features.

A few exceptions: Doonesbury will remain on our Opinion page, and The New York Times’ excellent Sunday crossword puzzle will continue to appear in our paper.

Change can be jarring, but I’d ask that you give the new comics a chance before passing judgment. Like TV networks that regularly pick up, renew or cancel shows, newspapers need to do the same with their line-ups from time to time to keep their content fresh.

Working with one content provider instead of a half-dozen also gives us flexibility to focus resources where we can do the most good: Providing local news. Last week, we created a new position — a new hire above what we already had in our newsroom — to keep timesleader.com updated early in the morning. Starting this week, you’ll be able to go to timesleader.com starting at 7 a.m. for the latest breaking news on crime, weather and traffic.

More exciting things are coming up, all aimed at making The Times Leader our region’s best provider of local content.

George Spohr is executive editor of The Times Leader. He can be reached at gspohr@civitasmedia.com or 570-970-7249.

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