Seattle Times opinion material continues to migrate to seattletimes.com — look for changes in the coming week.
TWO days hence, much of our commentary and opinion will move to a new, online presentation that includes letters to the editor, op-ed essays and a variety of cartoons, comments and blogs.
Entering the online world so deliberately also means departing some of the print world. Our pages of print will diminish, our presence on the World Wide Web will increase disproportionately. Here’s a summary, and why:
• Letters to the editor have long been a pride of these pages. We try to nurture them into print and write headlines that are fair and accurate — and a little cheeky. We’ll expand our letters online through a new blog and reference at least the top letter of the day in print. We encourage you to look at both editions — print and online — for directions to more letters.
• Most op-eds, the guest essays that often place notable politicians and writers in front of you, also will move to the Web site, leaving us room for local columnists and local editorial opinion in print.
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Guest opinions are still welcome, but in the new form; those will appear online without the current restrictions of length that print demands. We hope to create as much dialogue within the community online as we have for decades on our op-ed pages.
• We’re keeping local columnists in the print editions as well as online and moving many of the current syndicated columnists online, where they are frequently read by many people now.
• Editorial cartoons will continue online with added animation techniques and a variety of cartoons we currently do not publish because of space.
“Why is this happening to my newspaper?” you ask.
Mostly, because reading habits have changed. Our readership online is way up. Online-information searches during the day and evening hours is deciding for us where most people go for commentary. Currently, commentary is king in the online world, where opinions vary and clash hourly in the process of democracy.
Just as television changed my world and online reading has changed yours, the distribution of our writing and editing efforts is inexorably moving toward podcasting, blogs, virtual pages and instant interaction.
Our job online will be to continue to broker information and give you as much informed opinion as any source in our state. That means contemporaneous blogging from this Wednesday’s gubernatorial debate in Yakima from Times editorial columnist Joni Balter. It means much more rapid transmission of ideas and debate from readers and public officials. It means the same standards of journalism with the same intent to treat readers as our audience above all others.
We will continue to expend our resources examining the region. These Sunday Seattle Times pages will continue in their present form, but we will spread the net in the daily Times to catch the attention of many more readers who regularly check The Times’ Web site.
We’ll provide more links to original documents and reporting, offer far more interaction to readers opinions — and so many of you do have them. We’ll experiment with other forms that expand podcasts and videocasts, and try to make the workings of government and society closer and more accessible.
A book on every editorial-page editor’s desk should be, “Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription,” by William Buckley (Basic Books, November, 2007). The late Mr. Buckley — I didn’t agree with his politics but relished his wordage — once got a letter from a reader in Madison, Wis., who noted the following when he learned the editor had completed a complicated sea voyage:
“Dear Mr. Buckley:
“You can’t imagine my excitement upon reading, when you visited the Titanic in 1989 of your descent two and a half miles into the ocean! If only you hadn’t come up.”
We are still navigating here, starting Tuesday with a different periscope.
James F. Vesely’s column appears Sunday on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org; for a podcast Q&A with the author, go to Opinion at www.seattletimes.com/edcetera