Stothard unveils new sections for The Times

Reader response to The Times reporting and analysis since the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US has prompted editor Peter Stothard to re-configure the paper to provide more space.

From 11 February, he will take business news and return it to the second section to accompany sport and give both more pages. And he will start a third broadsheet section, The Register, – the name is taken from The Times’s original name, the Daily Universal Register – containing double the space for obituaries, the court page and a readers’ debate page.

This leaves the main section room to expand home and overseas news, editorials, letters to the editor and a new weather service.

Even tabloid Times 2 is to get more space for its content.

Stothard claims the enlarged newspaper has been made possible because The Times reacted much more quickly than its rivals to combat the downturn in the economy.

"The thing which is most pleasing to me is that we are in a phase of expansion at a time when a lot of our rivals are still cutting back as the result of the fall in advertising revenues," said Stothard. "We reacted very quickly to the problems that came after 11 September and we were thinking of the expansion round about the time The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph started laying people off." The Times went through its own period of redundancy, shedding two jobs compulsorily last November.  Stothard feels the decisions taken then have allowed the paper to enter the new year "in an optimistic mode."

He explained: "This is an expansion of what readers said they wanted in the paper after 11 September, which we couldn’t give them in the immediate aftermath, but which we are now determined to do.

"I have never known a period as a journalist when readers have been more appreciative of the paper.  Newspapers get a lot of letters of complaint and only a few of pleasure however well you are doing, but we got masses and masses of letters that told us they were appreciative of the foreign reporting from New York and the war and the business aftermath.

"It showed the real core aspects of the paper were things people wanted more of."

The Register section will sit in the centre of the business and sport section, designed to accommodate an expansion of obituaries, after a success The Times has had with "brief lives", its mini-obituaries on Mondays.

Around 50 per cent more colour in the paper will attract more advertising, the key to the newspaper’s finance, he added.

 

By Jean Morgan

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