Changes — and jobs — at Times website

Couple of minor organizational twists were introduced today at LATimes.com. On the foreign page, a gathering of notes and observations from correspondents mostly in Latin America is being called La Plaza. It's not really a blog — no links or date stamps for individual entries — but there is a message board. No messages yet, but you have to know what you are looking for or click pretty deep into the site to find it. There's also supposed to be a sub-section of the California news pages called Crime & Courts but frankly I couldn't find that one at all. Innovation Editor Russ Stanton explains those and other changes, talks about traffic and puts out a hiring call, in the memo that follows:

From: Stanton, Russ
Sent: Mon 4/9/2007 1:31 PM
To: yyeditall
Subject: Newspaper/website update, Ch. 4

April 9, 2007

This week a host of new and reconfigured sections and features make their online debuts.

Today, we rolled out La Plaza, a daily notebook of clippings and observations from Latin America compiled by our foreign staff. Readers also can join in the discussion. Go to http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/latinamerica/ and click on the La Plaza box.

Making a soft debut today is the first new subsection of California, Crime & Courts. This is part of our ongoing effort to create specialized, topical destinations within latimes.com. Expect to see more inactive features in the days and weeks ahead as we work out the concept. For starters, the Phil Spector trial page goes live Thursday with a live video feed of the proceedings, interactive maps that recount the night of Lana Clarkson's death, photo galleries of the players in the case, links to documents and a multimedia explanation of Spector's legacy in music.

This Sunday, Book Review/Opinion will offer up a host of web-only features. For books there will be columns be about mysteries, science fiction, children's literature, literary news and more reviews than in print. Opinion has three web-only columns, Opinion Daily, Blowback, feedback from readers and subjects of stories and editorials, and Dust-Up, a weeklong debate between two people with contrasting views about an issue in the news.

Also this Sunday, the Business section will roll out a personal finance package that includes the return of Money Makeover, where experts advise readers on how to get their financial houses in order.

Blogs: March was a record month for blog traffic at 1.3 million page views. That's up 18% from February and nearly 60% more than in January. Bettie Rinehart reports that Political Muscle, Homicide and Bottleneck have quickly built strong audiences and Opinion L.A. was a top performer thanks to Grazergate. And it's early in the month, but we appear to have a new No. 1: ShowTracker, which follows 11 popular TV shows. Conceived by TV editor Kate Aurthur in Calendar and Richard Rushfield, latimes.com entertainment editor, ShowTracker is produced by Times staffers Mary McNamara and Patrick Day, Rushfield, Geoff Berkshire from Tribune's MetroMix and freelancers Denise Martin, Ann Donahue and Clair Zulkey. Basic training for our current bloggers is complete and a new round with classes on html and typepad will begin later this spring. We've received more than two-dozen proposals for new blogs, which are being evaluated. New blogs will be announced in mid April.

Standards: The Standards & Practices Committee has subdivided into four groups to tackle the following in its first wave of deliberations: datelines, archiving and the corrections policy as it applies to the Web; taste, voice and style issues; blogs, opinion and user-generated content; and the editorial-business relationship. Readers' Representative Jamie Gold will be sending a note this week about how we handle
corrections on the website at present; a more detailed policy will follow. Ideas/suggestions are welcome, just send an email to yystandards@latimes.com.

Redesign: Immediately renamed itself the Reinvent Committee and is talking with readers about how they read and use the paper. It's the first step in thinking about building the paper from scratch. I neglected to mention last time that Dave Rickley from newsroom operations and Sean Gallagher and Diana Swartz from latimes.com are serving on this committee.

Web jobs: Later this week, we'll be posting the first batch of new job openings on the website and the Continuous News Desk. Look for the email from Editorial Hiring & Development.

The juggling act: Dozens of you asked during Internet 101 about the challenges of serving two masters (the paper and the web) as you go about your duties. Neil Chase, who until recently ran the NYT's continuous news desk, has some interesting takes on that experience in an interview with Nieman Reports, readable here: http://www.nieman.harvard.edu/reports/06-4NRwinter/p64-0604-chase.html

Speaking of Internet 101: The classes are over. If you didn't attend one, please go to the library home page and read it at http://news.latimes.com/internet101/ As per Mr. O'Shea, this presentation is mandatory for all staffers.

Russ Stanton

Innovation Editor


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