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Big ‘Monitor’ changes start Wednesday

On Wednesday – once we’re all on the other side of summer’s last weekend – we’ll begin rolling out substantial changes to the Monitor.

First to come will be two expanded local sections.

The Forum is a new opinion page intended to serve as the forum in which residents of Greater Concord can join in a lively, civil discussion on topics of the day. It’s not about our opinion, in other words, it’s about yours. The Forum will build on the Monitor’s tradition of publishing a great many letters to the editor, My Turn essays and columns by the rotating board of contributors. It will feature an innovative layout, timely subjects and fresh ideas – as fresh, say, as “The News in Haiku.” (Get out your pencil and start counting syllables.)

The Forum will run five days a week and will be brought to life by Opinion Editor Felice Belman, whose energy and creativity are such that she’s already conceived three weeks’ worth of pages. With the design help of editor Clay Wirestone and graphic artist Charlotte Thibault, they’ll be a dynamic addition to the paper.

But even Belman can’t sustain the section alone. We’re counting on you to join in what we expect will be a fun, thought-provoking and far-reaching conversation. We’ll let you know how to participate in the Wednesday edition.

Also on Wednesday, we’ll introduce Hometown, a reimagining of our longstanding Neighbors page, dedicated to providing you with a deeper connection to the people, organizations and events in your community. Hometown will run six days a week, and it too will have an interactive character. We’re looking for photographs of club or community events, brags from proud family members or neighbors, even celebrations of first birthdays. Hometown will become the new home for the Insiders’ column about the day’s Concord events, and it will include tips on activities from around the area, too.

Community News Editor Noelle Stokes will oversee Hometown, with the help of Insider Editor Ben Conant. If you’re planning an event, or earn recognition, don’t be surprised to get a call from Stokes, looking to ask a few questions for a featured article. When the section debuts, we’ll spell out how you can contribute.

Other changes will follow through the month.

As the fall season gears up, look for more local stories on a variety of topics in our sports section, including our own high school power rankings. We’ll be highlighting a high school athlete of the week in print and video, and the sports staff – Editor Sandy Smith, Assistant Editor Jeff Novotny and writers Tim O’Sullivan and Drew Bonifant – will collaborate on an online sports blog. Online Editor Kevin Deane will handle the video.

We’ll also be updating our puzzle and comic offerings – taking away a few features and relocating a few others, while adding a new puzzle and comic. Look for these changes in mid-September.

As my phrasing suggests, we’re doing some subtraction as well as addition. For example, there will be fewer pages devoted to the national and international news and sports stories that are widely available elsewhere. Instead, we’ll use that space to give you more access to the news, events and ideas that are central to our community. The choices we’re making are influenced by a need to save money where we can, as well as a determination to keep the Monitor fresh and our local coverage strong.

These are changing times, and we are changing with them. I’m confident the newspaper we’ll deliver over the next month, and going forward, will be a better Monitor – and one committed, as ever, to the vital role of connecting and informing the community we serve. We’ll continue to push ourselves to bring you more local coverage, to deepen our presence in the community and to find new ways to deliver the information you need.

(Mark Travis is publisher and executive editor of the Monitor. He can be reached at 369-3250 or at mtravis@cmonitor.com.)

Legacy Comments15

You know...I'm curious. Is this new change going to result in layoffs at the Monitor? Is the paywall coming down? Is this going to increase the salary of the lowly Monitor reporter, who probably isnt paid a living wage??

How about treating on-line comments like letters to the editor? Get rid of the anonymous screen names, and the quality of commentary would probably increase. John Corrigan

John - I agree that anonymous screen names may not be a good idea. Unaccountability is a bad thing in general, and it's not a good idea to give people a blank check to spout off with whatever cockamamie idea they have spinning around in their heads while hiding behind a cloak of anonymity. With that said, I am anonymous on this board because the company I work for has a policy against its employees expressing opinions in public because that expression could reflect poorly on the company. If anonymous screen names were disallowed, well, I guess I would have to sign off. Not a big problem - I was OK before newspapers allowed their readers to comment anonymously on the articles they published. And while I'd miss the interaction, it just might be good for the public discussion.

I think that both of you (Publius and Corrigan) make a good point, except that even writing letters to the editor, I have had letters sent to me from readers who have picked on a failed business, failed marriage, speech impediment, etc. and telling me that I had absolutely NO right to comment on anything, anyone. Now, these were not conservatives, these were your high minded liberals. In the internet age, you really can't express your opinion if you are employed or if you would like to be employed by certain companies in the future. I applied for a job that I was ultimately qualified for and they did not even interview me. Later I found that the owner disliked my letters as he was a bleeding heart liberal. So, no it is not a good idea to use first and last names. Now, to Publius' point about being "OK before newspapers allowed their readers to comment anonymously".....well.....the editorial page is where most of the political leanings of the management wound up and you could depend on the "news" to be unbiased. As we see here daily, progressives tell others that if you don't like the slant of the Monitor, read something else. Well, do any of us know the real truth. 90% of all press is left leaning and the members are political even when writing or reporting a simple local story. I am sure that many Monitor readers would rather just see a rubber stamp of their opinion in print but THAT is not a newspaper, nor should it be the way one is run!

Mr. Travis-Long time Monitor Forum participant - NHdriver (of Charlie and Duke fame) would love to come back if you give him a good reason to. You don't have to reinvent the wheel all you have to do is bring back what worked. Rebuild it and they will come.

How about more local investigative reporting? Like into the state employee ranks....nepotism.......follow people on their daily routine to see how much gets accomplished.......or investigate internet abuse at state agencies? Or local school issues? Yyou did a nice job exposing many MV issues and drinking incidents, how about treating other issues like that?

We all would like to see more investigative reporting but stories like that take weeks to develop and honestly, most small hometown newspapers just don't have the budget to dedicate to it. This is a nationwide trend. People don't want to pay for their news. There are an unlimited number of sources to get national news for free and that's where people go. I think that's why the focus will be more on local news. The Monitor will be the only source for that and perhaps more people would be willing to pay for it. As to nepotism and inefficiency, there is plenty of that in the private sector too. I've worked for several private firms--small and large--and I've seen nepotism ranging from the father passing his business down to his son--bypassing many more experienced employees-- to shady, deceptive office politics at firms bigger than any NH state agency. I've seen a company hire a new manager who promptly dismisses his entire staff and hires his staff from the company he just came from. I can walk down the rows of cubicles in the office and frequently see people surfing the web, posting on Facebook and stretching 30 min. lunches to 45 and so on. Don't pretend that this doesn't happen every day in every company in every corner of the world. We are dealing with humans, not robots.

Interesting...You said "As to nepotism and inefficiency, there is plenty of that in the private sector too."....true enough, but what state or federal statute are they violating?

The difference is that what happens at a private firm is not our business. But, if we are paying the salaries of state employees who work what amounts to a part time schedule (35 hours) then we expect that they are going to be productive. "A father handing down his business to his son---bypassing many more experienced employees" is not the same as complete families working for the state having been shown favor over others simply because strings were pulled. It is not fair when taxpayers are footing the bill.

You appear to be OK with nepotism and inefficiency in the private sector but not in the public sector. Is this because any public sector worker is paid from taxes and hence is 'your' employee? I find it incredibly insulting whenever a resident of a town is dissatisfied with a town employee and points his/her finger and repeats the cliched line: "hey, I'm a taxpayer here and I pay your salary...". How rude!

That is right Gen_X_er, they are public "servants", they serve the overall taxpayers at our whim. You won't find the same inefficiency in the private sector unless you have a weak leader but in the public sector they have it pretty easy at 35 hours per week. They don't get much done. So my point is that if state employees are on computers I paid for and you paid for, blogging all day long, trashing the taxpayers and calling them "cheap" or lobbying for more pay, they should be terminated for that. If they got their job because a relative pulled strings, that needs to be called out. Entire families work for the state, generation after generation........do we think that more qualified candidates out there don't exist??

Sounds interesting Mark. Are you going to bring back our avatars? Will we be able edit our postings like we once could? How about bringing back the voting system or the ability to review a poster's posting history? All of these popular Monitor fixtures brought people into the Monitor forum. Can you let people (like Hunter Dan) whose been in moderator purgatory for minor infractions, out so their postings can be seen immediately? No that would be some big changes for the better because the Monitor really had something special before they when to the low rent version we have now.

Excellent post Van, I couldn't agree with you more.

QUOTE "fewer pages devoted to the national and international news" which will serve to further this liberal rags effort to create more "low information democrat voters"

This is a great example of why corrigannh1's point is spot-on! Let's see everybody come out from behind their screen names!!!

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