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DIFFERENT TIMES: The New York Times will launch a new Sunday section this weekend, redesigning and renaming its Week in Review section The Sunday Review. For years, The Week in Review has been home to Big Picture pieces from the newsroom in the front, and editorials and opinion pieces in the back. In the new section, news pieces and opinion pieces will share space throughout. “The main changes are about packaging,” said executive editor Bill Keller at a press briefing Thursday.
“The big conceptual change is rather than having four pages of this and four pages of that, let’s see if putting them together makes them both better,” said editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal. “And we think the answer is rather obviously yes.”
Rosenthal said The Sunday Review section “doesn’t look like the other pages in the Times — the columns are shifted around, the blurbs are different, the bylines are different, we wanted to make it look different.”
Though the changes are largely cosmetic, there is some practical change for the paper’s staff. The editorial section and the newsroom section are entirely separate entities and Sunday Review — which will be ultimately controlled by Rosenthal and his deputy, Trish Hall — will involve some integration of the two.
“We have never before sat down together and planned coverage and that’s what we’re doing here,” said Rosenthal, referring to the newsroom and the editorial department. “We’re doing it with lots of safeguards.” One safeguard: a piece by the newsroom will come with the label “News analysis” and an opinion piece will be labeled, obviously, “opinion.”
Why has the Times decided to redesign this now? Bloomberg View, which launched last month, obviously seems to play a major role.
“The area of opinion is an area that The New York Times has always played a big part in,” said Rosenthal. “People are competing with us all over the place in new ways that are very different from what we are used to before online and new ways that we are more used to. Bloomberg News, for example, is more of a traditional kind of a thing. But there are people all over the place with the money and desire to compete with us, so we felt it was time to do our thing bigger and better.”
The Times introduced the section to about a dozen media reporters at a press briefing in The New York Times Building on Thursday morning. It was an unusual step for a paper whose editors have made it a point of pride to speak to their readers first—not their critics. Just how unusual was it? When Keller walked into a conference room on the Times Building’s 15th floor a few minutes before the briefing began, he said, “This is so goddamn weird.”
— JOHN KOBLIN