[OUTLOOK]Why we changed your newspaper

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[OUTLOOK]Why we changed your newspaper

"What have you done with my newspaper???!!!"

If that is what you are saying today, you are not alone.

Readers, bless them, are creatures of habit. They may complain that the newspaper is too liberal or too conservative, too boring or too lightweight. They get (justifiably) furious when our errors make it all too clear that we don't know as much about something as the reader does.

But every steady reader develops a plan of attack for reading the newspaper. My own pattern, in reading the International Herald Tribune, is to scan the front page, then turn to the funnies. My wife is brushing her teeth about this time, and when she comes out of the bathroom I select one or two of the comics for her to read. Then I move to the sports, bridge column and editorial page.

After breakfast I get serious, moving through the paper from front to back, reading all the headlines and such stories as I need to. If there's time, I will go through the paper a second time, reading stories I skipped the first time.

That's my pattern. You have your own pattern.

What if, one day, I found that the funnies had been moved to some strange page, while the bridge column was now with the stock tables and the editorial page was opposite the movie reviews? It would disrupt my entire routine.

Today, dear reader, we have disrupted your routine. You are reading this on the editorial page, which is now Page 7. You expect to find television listings on this page, but they are now on Page 2. And replacing the editorials that used to be on Page 3 are the news stories from Page 2.

Why? What was wrong with the old way?

Nothing was wrong, but we saw a way to improve our use of color in the newspaper.

The press-run configuration limits us to four color pages a day. Until now, they have been the front and back pages, plus Pages 3 and 6. Before we had a secure color capability, we printed the stock tables on Page 6. Some time ago we moved the stocks to Page 5 and used the sixth page for the weekly IT-Science page and for a second business page, to take advantage of the color possibility.

But Page 3's color capability was still wasted. Nothing is more black-and-white than the editorials and opinion columns. So a domino effect was created: Editorials move from 3 to 7, second news page from 2 to 3, daily calendar listings from 7 to 2.

This lineup has several advantages. Opinions anchor the inside back page in many leading newspapers, including the New York Times and Washington Post. And the color news photographs on Page 3 will have far more impact than black-and-white ones did on Page 2.

What about using Page 2 for TV listings, a horoscope, the weather map and, starting today, an expanded listing of religious services in Seoul? Isn't there something weird about not having news on the second page? It's not so weird. Many papers, again including the Post and Times, put news digests on Page 2. In other words, the page is considered a space to take care of business, not necessarily prime news display space.

So that's why we are disrupting your routine. We apologize for the shock. But new routines form quickly enough. We think that once our readers get used to it, this new organization can serve them better.

And we are not finished with our improvements. Watch next Friday for J-Week, a new weekly section of information and activities. J-Week will gather in one place the entertainment and cultural listings that we have been scattering through the week, for lack of enough space to collect them. Now, if you want to call a theater box office, you don't have to try to remember what day you saw the listing. You can find it in J-Week.

The rest of the paper is for people who want to read. J-Week is for people who want to do things. It will carry restaurant reviews and travel information, along with a map of Seoul's entertainment districts to help you find movie theaters and concert halls.

We hope you will lift the J-Week section out of the paper each week and save it for reference until the next week.

A new page order, a new section -- that's what we are doing to your newspaper. We hope you like it.


The writer is the editor of the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition.

by Hal Piper

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