Times Gets New 'International Report'

The New York Times front-of-the-book is about to get a makeover.

Starting in a month, when you open up the front section of the Times, you’ll find an expanded table-of-contents section spilled across two pages, a section box detailing features at nytimes.com, a relocated corrections section and a new banner heading dubbed “International Report” for foreign stories.

In essence, there will be lots of easily digestible summaries, which will require an extra page flip or two (or three!) before you hit your first news story.

“This will be a bit of a magazine model,” said Tom Bodkin, the assistant managing editor of the Times.

Executive editor Bill Keller and Mr. Bodkin announced the changes at the “Throw Stuff at Bill” meeting on Valentine’s Day, which were, unsurprisingly, overshadowed by Mr. Keller’s announcement that about 100 reporters and editors wouldn’t be working at the paper by year’s end. Mr. Bodkin told the newsroom that the new look would debut on March 25, though he later cautioned in an interview that it would be better to say “late March.”

Editors at the paper have complained that there’s a jumbled feel to the first few pages of the paper—a foreign story here, some ads there, then some more foreign stories—so Mr. Bodkin explained, “It’s really an attempt to make the organization more coherent.”

So, the details! The pithy story summaries that walk you through what’s inside the paper, a section that now appears on A2, will double in size and expand to A3. Likewise, the “Inside” box that appears on A1, which teases stories inside and rotates around the front page at the whim of page designers on any given day, will now anchor the front page with the same strip-slot at the bottom.

“If you skim through page one and then go through two and three, you’ll sort of touch every major news story of the day and every significant story in the paper,” said Mr. Bodkin.

The corrections box will move from A2 to A4 and will be joined alongside a box that will be dedicated to nytimes.com. Mr. Bodkin couldn’t quite say what would be there.

Foreign stories, which appear in the front pages of the paper in drips and drabs that rotate around strip ads, will start appearing only under a section heading dubbed “International Report,” similar to the way “National Report” sections off. The international section will start either on A5 or A6 (or even farther back during the “busy season”), depending on wherever the full-page ads stop, Mr. Bodkin said.

“You know how the magazine has a lot of advertising in front before you get to its main well? We may put more full-page ads in front.”

Ah, full-page ads! So were these moves generated by money—essentially, were advertisers willing to pay more for news summaries rather than, say, a police raid in Paris?

“Advertising is absolutely not a factor,” said Mr. Bodkin. Instead: “All of the changes are going to address some perceived issues with the paper that we anecdotally hear from readers—that they don’t have enough time to get through the paper. This is a reader’s service.”