Nancy Barnes: Families are a focus in fresh local section

  • Article by: NANCY BARNES , Star Tribune Editor
  • Updated: June 28, 2009 - 10:32 AM

You'll find all the coverage you're used to and more in the Twin Cities+Life.

Readers of our Sunday local news section will see two new pages of fresh content starting today, part of our ongoing effort to ensure that the paper better reflects our readers' lives and concerns.

The section itself is now called Twin Cities+Life. The news pages will remain the same, but we've added local content inside the section to enhance the Sunday reading experience.

One of these pages is devoted to family life. It includes health tips, suggested outings for the day, helpful family news and a recipe for an easy Sunday dinner.

We've also added a page called On Your Side. This page will be devoted to helping people solve problems in their daily lives. It will include a standing feature from our Whistleblower team, which researches and reports on problems brought to us by our readers. There also will be helpful hints from our consumer reporter, John Ewoldt, and our Fixit writer, Karen Youso.

We've made these changes because, in reviewing the Sunday paper, our editors discovered that we had little to no content about families, a topic that's really at the heart of daily life on Sundays, especially in Minnesota. We have a fair amount of coverage of family life throughout the week, but about 200,000 subscribers only get the Sunday paper and never see that news and information.

Traditionally, some of these features would have found their way into a newspaper's lifestyle section. As readers will recall, we combined our two Sunday features sections last year, with a focus on arts and entertainment, in an effort to save newsprint costs.

Many newspapers across the county have combined sections as they battle the recession. At various newspapers, that has lead to business folding into news, national and international news being combined with local news, or, in some cases, business and sports sharing a section.

In trying to find a way to bring helpful, family-oriented coverage to our Sunday readers, we thought we would try a new twist on the traditional sectioning of a paper and add this "how we live" content to our local section, leading to the name Twin Cities+Life. In many newspapers, in fact, this content appeared in local sections before standalone daily lifestyle sections were born decades ago.

I want to assure readers that the amount of space devoted to pure local news on Sundays has not changed. The cover will still be devoted to news plus a metro column; the amount of inside space reserved for local news and information -- known as our "news hole" -- also has not changed. Instead, we have shifted space from other places throughout the week to make room for this additional Sunday content, which will be produced by both our news and features departments. (Meanwhile, Jim Foti's Roadguy column will shift to Monday, when most drivers start their weekday commute.)

We hope readers enjoy these additions to the Sunday paper. I invite you to send your feedback or questions about this, or other content in the paper, to me at nancyb@startribune.com.

• • •

Coming next week: A look at our new investigators web page, dedicated to helping readers and citizens investigate problems and wrongdoing in our community.

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