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New look, options for Times readers

- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 1, 2008

Welcome to the newly redesigned Washington Times. We hope the look and feel will make your reading experience richer and more enjoyable. This page is designed to walk you through the many features of the paper to ensure you can find the news and information you're seeking as quickly as possible. We also hope you will take advantage of many new opportunities, such as our new "Plugged In" section.

But first, let's start by answering the question you are sure to have: Why did you change the design that many readers felt comfortable with? The short answer is that The Times has been transforming itself from a newspaper company to a multifaceted, multimedia company, and that means we now offer you far more news and information through our Web site at www.washingtontimes.com and through our other digital products (like our new radio and video shows) than can possibly fit on the pages of the print edition.

So one of the redesign goals was to better connect our digital products to the print edition so that your news experience doesn't have to end at the bottom of a story. The changes greet you right on the front page today.

The blue "News Tabs" are one of the biggest innovations, and readers told us during focus groups they loved this new navigation tool. The tabs sit atop most stories and include a one- or two-word description of the topic, person, place or event that is at the heart of the story. At the beginning, these tabs act as a navigational tool to quickly help you to identify the subject of the story, even before you get to the headline.

After you finish reading a story, the tabs become a potential jumping off point to dig deeper into the subject you just read about by leaping to our Web site. That's because each News Tab connects to one of our 400,000 "News Themes" at www.washingtontimes.com. News Themes are custom streams of news that track every development on a specific topic, personality, location or event by combining our live news report, our archives and our wire services. You can access these specialized news feeds on the News Themes carousel on the home page at www.washingtontimes.com or on the Themes landing page at www.washingtontimes.com/themes. You can also plug the News Tab words into the search box on any page of the Web site to get the latest news.

Similar navigational tabs sit atop each page. These tell you the section of the paper you are currently reading and identify the corresponding landing page on the Web site where you can find similar news.

Another digital innovation in the redesign is the new headline marquee on the left side of the front page. It is designed to showcase far more of the important content inside the newspaper than we have been able to in the past. It's like having a Web-like headline package right on your front page that points you to important and interesting stories inside.

The marquee also points you to value-added opportunities on our Web site, like the new "On Politics" video show featuring well-known Times reporters Ralph Z. Hallow and Donald Lambro, our new weekly radio show called "Inside the Story" or our unique, interactive version of the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial called "The Wall."

Another goal of redesigning the newspaper is to better showcase the coverage that we think most distinguishes The Times in politics, national security, world affairs, local news, culture and opinion. It's all the news you have loved and become accustomed to reading from your favorite newspaper, just better organized so you can find it more quickly.

For instance, we hope A2's new "Washington in 5 Minutes" page will become a must-read destination. It provides a quick overview of the most important news from Capitol Hill to Foggy Bottom that occurred in the nation's capital yesterday, as well as a daybook looking ahead to the most interesting news events to watch today.

We also have moved two important areas of news coverage into the A section that used to be anchored elsewhere: metropolitan and business news. We're not cutting back on these coverage areas, simply elevating them to our most prominent section. In today's A section, for instance, you will find two pages of news from the District, Maryland and Virginia as well as a two-page photo spread from Saturday night's prom for area teenagers with disabilities.

All this reorganization helped us free up an entire section of the newspaper so we could create a whole new reader experience. The new B section of the paper now features "Plugged In," an opportunity for our reporters and editors to help you delve deeper into one of the core subject areas in the news.

On Mondays, the Plugged In section will focus on the marketplace, providing expanded coverage of business, the economy, energy, technology and personal finance. On Tuesdays, the section focuses on politics, with deeper coverage and analysis of Congress, the campaign and the federal government. On Wednesdays, Plugged In shifts to the subject of living, with topics like health, science, home life, gardening, food and travel.

Thursday's Plugged In section delves more deeply into national security, focusing on issues across the globe that affect us here at home as well as offering deeper insights from our reporters who cover the Pentagon, Homeland Security department, FBI and State Department. Thursday's section also is the new home for our new "America at War" page that provides an expansive historical look at U.S. military actions from the Civil War to the Gulf War. It builds upon the popularity of the Civil War page that used to appear in Saturday editions.

Our popular "Show" section, featuring reviews of movies, theater and other weekend entertainment opportunities, will continue to be an important part of our Friday coverage, anchoring the B section on that day.

Our sports section is growing as well, with more space to cover games and to showcase the insight, wit and analysis of your beloved columnists. The classified section will become the regular destination for death notices and obituaries, while the weather, our full page of comics and the always-popular "Dear Abby" column will appear in classified or the back of the news section depending on space considerations.

A few final benefits: The redesign doubles the number of color pages you can enjoy each day. It also has allowed us to cover nearly the entire area north of Richmond and south of Baltimore with our second edition, more than doubling the number of households that get our very latest news and scores.

Finally, all home subscribers are now entitled to a free, new benefit: a complimentary subscription to the newspaper's new electronic edition. The e-edition is a digital replica of the paper that shows up on your doorstep, arriving each morning in your e-mail inbox. It offers several enhancements, such as enabling you to search the paper and navigate through sections using hyperlinks. This means you can now access your favorite paper while on the road for vacation or business. It also means on Saturdays, when there is no print edition delivered to homes, you'll get an extra seventh day of the newspaper delivered to you free of charge. Regular Saturday inserts such as the color comics and TV guide will now appear in the Sunday paper.

To sign up for a free e-edition, simply update your subscriber information online by clicking on the "Subscribe" link at the top of The Washington Times' Web site at www.washingtontimes.com or by calling our customer service department at 800/277-8500.