New York Times to ‘reinvent’ Week in Review

Romenesko Memos
“This is not just about a new look or a new layout or new features,” says a Times memo, “but the creation of an entirely new section. It also is unusual in that the re-invention project will involve staff from both the newsroom and the editorial department.” ALSO ANNOUNCED: A big expansion of the Opinion pages online. (The memo is after the jump.)

Sent: Friday, February 18, 2011 3:45 PM
To: [New York Times newsroom]
Subject: From Bill Keller and Andy Rosenthal: Reinvention of the Week in Review

To the Staff:

As some of you have heard by now, we have jointly decided to undertake a reinvention of the Week in Review. The Editorial Department will also undertake a big expansion of the Opinion pages online, but more about that later in this note.

This is not just about a new look or a new layout or new features, but the creation of an entirely new section. It also is unusual in that the re-invention project will involve staff from both the newsroom and the editorial department.

That’s not exactly a first for us (think of Room for Debate), but it is still somewhat new territory. The new section is not intended to relax the important distinction between news and opinion. Reporters and editors who work in the newsroom will observe the boundary between analysis (which supplies context, explores trends, weighs assertions against evidence) and opinion (which may be partisan or ideological and advocate particular outcomes). But impartial analysis and outright opinion can live side-by-side as long as they are properly labeled.

It’s still very early in the process, so we can’t tell you exactly what the new section will look like. In fact, we can’t even tell you what it will be called. But there is enough to say that we thought we’d bring you all up to date.

We met the other day with a large group of people, including many former WiR editors. We talked about the project, threw around blue-sky ideas and listened carefully to people’s comments, suggestions and concerns.

Now we have assembled a much smaller group and we’re going to turn it loose to actually design the section and come up with prototypes. That group will report back to us and in a relatively short period, a section will be born.

The group is headed by Trish Hall, the Op-Ed Editor, who will be the overall editor of the new section as well.

We think it is best described as a Sunday commentary section that will feature the rich menu of the best Op-Ed columnists around; our Editorials; some fine analysis and observation from our best writers in the newsroom; the best outside opinion writing (more like the classical Op-Ed pieces); a much expanded and enhanced readers’ section (Letters to the Editor on steroids in the 21st century), as well as new kinds of features and new voices and ideas.

This section will physically live primarily in the editorial department, but since we want to preserve a way for reporters and correspondents to write rich analytical pieces on their beats or the stories they are covering, some portion of the staff will remain anchored in the newsroom.

There is no exact timeline for this project, although as usual, we want the goodies as soon as we can get them.

The Week in Review project, by the way, will be done in parallel with, and in some sense as part of, a big expansion of online Opinion. That’s an even more nascent project than the Sunday section, but is getting under way. This is a time when opinion is exploding online. That will involve even more voices, video, graphics, art and illustration, more social interaction. More everything.

It’s an area in which we have long been a leader, and we’re going to continue leading in the future.

Among many other things, we hope the online Opinion expansion will test out our efforts to expand and enhance our readers’ involvement in our work.

We welcome suggestions, thoughts, and great ideas for this new venture.

We have always set the standard for smart, challenging, infinitely inventive analysis, opinion and editorial writing. We recently marked the 40th anniversary of Op-Ed. The new section, and the online expansion, are the next big leap.

Bill [Keller] and Andy [Rosenthal]

>> Keller says even the Week in Review name is up for discussion

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  • Anonymous

    I have read your announcement carefully and I do not see even lip-service to why this change is necessary.
    Karen B. Prosser

  • Anonymous

    The print paper but online on the net site, since the PRINT letters are only accepted from VIPs & celebrities
    & PHDs. No one else need apply.

    Motorcycle Parts

  • Anonymous

    Imagine, all letters to the NYT about contents of their paper and website from all letter writers, on an online forum online, edited by the Times but not restricted to just VIPs and PHDS, as is the general rule now to get
    your letter to the editor published in the print edition. I have been writing letters to the Times since college, for 40 years, and not once, not once, have any of my letters been accepted for publication. They can’t ALL be that bad. I know why. They have their own entitled elistist rules there. Bill? Enough already! Open up online at least!

  • Anonymous

    I have asked Bill Keller a few times if it possible someday to start a Letters to the Editor section
    of the NYTimes website that would post all letters to the editors on an online forum, not in the print
    paper but just online on the website, since the PRINT letters are only accepted from VIPs and celebrities
    and PHDs. No one else need apply. But online, they could open LETTERS up to all comers, BILL?