- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2002

A focus on all that enriches life

The Washington Times, like any good newspaper, is determined to offer a cornucopia of features and special sections in various formats to suit readers' pursuits and interests.
Family Times debuted in June 1997, the culmination of editors' plans to create a distinct corner of the newspaper that would reliably reflect traditional values in examining family life.
Nearly everyone recognizes now that many of the most vexing problems from drugs and crime to sexual promiscuity and teen-age pregnancy can be traced to the deterioration of the family. For a long time, however, many parents felt as if they were swimming alone against destructive cultural currents. How, they wondered, could they instill and strengthen bedrock values such as faith and family in their children when so much of popular media radio, television, movies, music, the Internet exerts a contrary influence?
The guiding philosophy behind the award-winning Family Times, edited from its inception by Assistant Managing Editor Maria Stainer, is never to presume to tell readers how to rear their children (or, for that matter, care for their aging parents). True enough, the section provides several columnists with strong opinions, but Mrs. Stainer's job as editor is to provide readers with information and options, to enable them to make their own decisions about what is best for their families. After all, who knows what's best for children more than their own informed parents?
Editors at The Times look for ways to make the newspaper stand out, to set it apart from the competition in its treatment of stories and subjects. Family Times, for example, takes care to include fathers in conversations about parenting. Many publications for parents are geared toward mothers. Yet fathers must lead and otherwise contribute to the upbringing of children; the absence of their positive guidance and influence breeds consequences that can be seen everywhere.
"Selecting topics that connect with ordinary folks and their experiences or concerns also makes Family Times stand out," Mrs. Stainer says. "One favorite caught up with a Montgomery County family that included quintuplets. Now these quints were seniors in high school. What parent's mind wouldn't boggle at the thought of sending five children to college at the same time?
"Family Times also gives a voice to families that are successes: You have been married for 50 years. How did you do it?"
In other words, readers can expect positive, useful information. Most features also include a "More info" box filled with books, associations, addresses, phone numbers and Web sites about the topic in case readers want to go further into the story.
Family Times is meant to be a breath of fresh air in a culture that can seem saturated with the stale, the sordid, the squalid. The editors of The Times know that families need all the help and support they can get.
Mrs. Stainer also oversees the Life pages in the Metropolitan section, which focus on a different theme each weekday: schools and education, health, home, science and technology, and entertainment. Also among regular features:
Books, in addition to Family Times, on Sunday.
Food on Wednesday.
Washington Weekend magazine, brimming with things to do, on Thursday.
Friday Home Guide, our real estate section, and Auto Weekend, our guide to automotive news, on Friday.
Arts and Entertainment, spotlighting the local and national scene, to start the weekend, plus Travel and a third feature section called appropriately enough Saturday, which also includes the Civil War page.
Each year, The Times also produces award-winning special sections as a service to readers. The topics vary, but mainstays include guides for tourism, golf and education plus season previews for the Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens and Baltimore Orioles.

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