Everything except the archives is free, which is good, and the look feels fresher and snappier. It's impossible to please everyone, and I'm sure I'll have more detailed reactions about the site's functionality (which matters a lot more to me than the look) as I use the site every day. At first glance it seems better, but some of the changes are already unwelcome to me. First, unlike most media sites I use, (which is, you know, a few...), the new Times pages intentionally don't fit an 800x600 screen. You have to scroll horizontally. The welcome letter from general manager Robertson Barrett explains that it works for "the majority of Internet users." That seems a low standard to aim for. For the way I use the site, navigation also will be a bit more challenging because stories are broken into smaller chunks, requiring more clicks. I expect that, like many others, I will use the "Print" function work-around in order to read a story on a single page — and that's probably what I'll link to as well. When I finish reading, there are no longer any ready links back to the section where I began [Oops: Yes there are, in the banner at the top of the page]. I have to start over by clicking on "News." On the main pages, some useful links that used to be on the left are now at the bottom, but I'll get used to that. The site gives prominent top-right play to a new heading called Pacific Time, which for now just repackages stories from other sections, but I'm guessing that if starts doing more original content that's where it will go. There is a web diary from Cannes by Mary McNamara on the entertainment pages, which to my taste still overemphasize listings and searches over stories. Sorry, like most Angelenos, I don't use the L.A. Times website to find events or movie times.

An LAT staffer has emailed me to ask what about Column One? Arguably the showcase story in each day's printed paper, today's piece got a small headline on the main page of the website, with no guidance that the paper's top editors felt it merited special play. As fresher "news" came along, it fell off the page altogether by 11:30 a.m. If you are looking for the Column One, there is a link at the bottom of the page. There's nothing on the main page to let readers know what story the paper's editors flagged as the lede story in that morning's paper. I know, webheads de-emphasize the actual paper, but that mindset can blindly go too far.

At LA Voice, veteran website editor Mack Reed gives a detailed review of the new design, calling it "cleaner, freer, flawed." Others as I find them.

Also in LAT Land: Michael Newman has been brought in as deputy editorial page editor. He's another hire from the New York Times, where he was op-ed editor, and replaces Judy Dugan, who becomes a senior editorial writer. Also, Nicholas Riccardi of the Business staff is headed to Denver as bureau chief.

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