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FROM THE EDITOR: We’ve made a few changes with our readers in mind…

You may have noticed a few changes with The Demopolis Times this morning. While they are not as noticeable as when we redesigned the newspaper two months ago, they are significant.

With each redesign comes the inevitable tweaking. In my career, I’ve been a part of redesigns at three different newspapers. Each time we’ve gone back a couple of months later to evaluate what is working and what is not. Then we make changes.

What we’ve done here is probably the most visually drastic changes I’ve ever made. We’ve completely changed the look of three pages, but true method lives where one might perceive madness.

Along the way we have made a couple of subtle changes. For one, we’ve increased the size of the font we use for our stories. That caused a little crowding on some pages &045; such as this one &045; but not too bad.

Now, we’ve increased the space between the lines. This makes it easier to read and more inviting on the eyes. The result, however, is that it necessitated some changes to this page so we could accommodate all of the content.

In addition, we needed this page to be more flexible. We’re starting to see more letters to the editor come in, and we hope to see even more in the future. When we do get them, we need to be able to put them somewhere so they don’t hide amongst the other features.

While content is king, we value our aesthetics as well. A pretty page is a well-read page, or so &8220;they&8221; say.

So we shrunk the editorial cartoon and moved things around. In the end, we have what you see here. While it may look much different, all of the old elements are still around. Furthermore, the changes are more cosmetic than they might appear.

The real changes came on PageTwo and HomeTown, which was previously known as OfRecord. We felt the content of these pages were disconnected, and we wanted to rectify that situation.

For PageTwo, we’ve created a newsier page. It has your weather, a News On The Spot &045; the cousin to our popular On The Spot &045; and the arrest reports. We’ll also run business features and important national and world news here. While our main focus is local news, we want to be able to provide the biggest stories of the day from outside our corner of the world.

HomeTown has become a page dedicated to the events going on around us. We’ve got our On The Spot, which is a feature photo from recent events. Our Community Calendar now resides here. And finally, we’ve got our obituaries on this page, now in a more prominent spot. HomeTown will be found on page three each day.

As for our Astro-Graph and Crossword puzzle, we’ve moved them to our Classifieds page. They fit well there, and we want our classified advertisers to benefit from the additional views the page will get from our die-hard astrology readers and crossword puzzlers.

Since our redesign, the most frequent request has been that we change the crossword puzzle itself. When we redesigned in October, we changed crossword puzzles. Many of our readers found the new one to be too elementary.

Well, dear crossword lovers, we have heard your requests and found a way to accommodate you. Our new crossword is more difficult, the most difficult our syndicate offers. We hope you enjoy it.

One deletion from the newspaper is Dr. Gott. While we found some Dr. Gott fans in the past few weeks, we felt that the space his column took up could be better used for local news or with other syndicated features on food, business trends and advice.

The disappearance of Dr. Gott will undoubtedly lead some to inquire about Dear Abby. We’ve got several Dear Abby fans here at the newspaper, as well, but alas, Dear Abby will not return. Our new syndicate does not carry her. Furthermore, we want to move away from the same columnists you can find in most every other newspaper.

That philosophy led us to change our editorial columnists during the redesign. We’ve heard much praise for the writings of Nat Hentoff, William Rusher, Gene Lyons and Cokie Roberts. We’ll continue to sample other columnists as we go forward.

Know that we view this newspaper as a fluid product built for our readership. We’re always open to new ideas, and we’re not afraid to make a change to better serve you. Most of all, we welcome any input you might have for us.

Sam R. Hall is editor and publisher of The Times. He can be reached at (334) 289-4017 or by e-mail to sam.hall@demopolistimes.com.