'Current' arrives

As we told you a few weeks back, the Times' Sunday Opinion section is being reinvented as a section called Current. It launches in this Sunday's paper with lede pieces on a Pakistani physicist's discussion of how and why it's likely that terrorists will someday ignite a nuclear bomb, and a former CIA official's concern Al Qaeda's attempts to infiltrate American intelligence agencies. There is also some integration with the web, including a blog starting Sunday on the pending Supreme Court nomination, and what sounds from the press release like a recurring new role for right-wing talk radio host Dennis Prager and other new features. The redesign is apparently from the shop of Roger Black, which often means a lot of bold black ink. I haven't seen the section, but Black's work has fans and detractors. The press release follows:

LOS ANGELES, July 8, 2005 - On Sunday, July 10, the Los Angeles Times will launch Current, a fundamental redesign of the traditional Sunday Opinion section offering readers an energetic mix of thought-provoking essays, columns and bold graphic journalism.

"The new title and handsome redesign put the finishing stamp on changes that we've been developing for six months," said Bob Sipchen, Current's editor. "In many ways, our mission remains the same as it's always been: To engage readers in incisive analysis and discussion of the week's events and to stir robust debate of the ideas and issues that affect their lives. But that hasn't stopped us from shaking up the way we go about that mission."

The launch of Current and evolving changes on the Editorial and Op-Ed pages are part of The Times' effort to redefine opinion journalism, both in print and on the Web, and to more actively engage readers in discussions of current issues and events.

Current's website, www.latimes.com/current, will have original Web features to complement the print edition and encourage lively interaction. Starting Sunday, the site will feature a Supreme Court nomination blog.

Current's bold approach to graphic design reflects the provocative, edgy mix of new features and columns. The cover will be a weekly surprise, ranging from smart opinion essays written by some of the world's best thinkers and writers to vividly colorful graphic interpretations of issues by top-flight political artists.

Inside pages and back cover will contain stand-alone pieces and once-only elements including maps and charticles, which combine graphic elements and text to present information as clearly and vividly as possible.

In addition to provocative essays of various lengths that span the ideological spectrum, the following regular and rotating columns will appear:

* Joel Stein: "Love Your Work," a regular column on Hollywood and America's culture of entertainment.

* Edited E-Altercation: One issue, two thinkers. Current brings them together for a spirited e-mail debate.

* The Faith Front: In alternate editions, talk radio host Dennis Prager and USC religion scholar Diane Winston take pointed, opinionated looks at religion's influence on culture.

* Accountability Corner: Ex post facto scrutiny of pundits' predictions, in chart form. Note to chattering classes: You will be held responsible.

* Word Watch: A spotlight on newsmakers or the media or both who abuse their verbal license.

* Shelf Life: In illustrated chart form, we comment on books about Iraq or a sampling of stale documentaries.

* Panel Discussion: Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Joel Pett searches the world for the week's sharpest cartoons, and offers incisive commentary.

* Outside the Tent: A rotating stable of writers offer their criticism of The Times.

* Mediavore: A synthesis and critique of the week as fought out in magazines, radio, and television or on the Internet. Each week, a biased observer offers their narrowly focused take on the good, bad and critically important issues as covered in a specific medium or across media.

* Found item: Brief verbatim transcripts taken from wherever we find them.

* News Quiz: Usually tongue-in-cheek but sometimes serious, this feature lets us come at a news event or newsmaker from any angle we choose.

* The Burning Question: The one question that's on everyone's mind in a given week - say, the Nuclear Option - is addressed by a Times correspondent or panel of correspondents.

* Debriefing: A Times reporter or editor offers an inside take on a small and, we hope, intriguing aspect of the journalistic trade.

The Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Publishing company, is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country and the winner of 37 Pulitzer Prizes, including two this year. The Times publishes five daily regional editions, including the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Orange and Ventura counties, the San Fernando Valley, and an Inland Empire edition covering Riverside and San Bernardino counties as well as a National edition. Additional information about The Times is available at www.latimes.com/mediacenter.

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