Introducing Sunday Opinion – The New York Times
Times Insider explains who we are and what we do and provides a behind-the-scenes look at how our journalism comes together.
For more than a decade, readers of the Sunday print edition of The New York Times have turned to the Opinion section, the Sunday Review, to find commentary from the likes of Maureen Dowd and Ross Douthat.
The columnists’ insights will remain – and will now appear at the beginning of the section – but the rest of the review, including the name, has been updated. Starting with today’s print opinion section, which will now be known as Sunday Opinion, readers will find more diverse voices, national newsgroup perspectives and longer personal writings.
In a recent conversation, Kate Elazegui, Design Director for Opinion Bureau, and Rachel Poser, Sunday Opinion editor, discussed what was changing in the section and their goals for the new content.
Why is it a good time to change your name?
RACHEL POSE The print section was established in 1935 as a place where Times reporters could offer their analysis on the week’s news, called The News of the Week in Review, later shortened to Week in Review. It was revamped in 2011 when it became part of Opinion. But the name Sunday Review could still confuse readers – the relationship to the rest of the paper was not entirely clear – so we have renamed it to clarify.
What new content is added?
LAYER Our new America in Focus series, which will appear twice a month, is made up of focus groups Times editors hold with Americans across the country on a variety of topics. We try to bring people’s unfiltered views and experiences to the page for readers.
Once a month we also add a longer personal text on the last page of the section. These will be grouped into limited series, and the first is Fortunes, a series about class psychology. We asked each writer in the series to choose a specific phenomenon that defined their class experience and write about it.
Our new Witness feature is a weekly profile of someone giving their personal perspective on national events. And finally, we have footnotes, where we offer suggestions for things to watch, listen to, and read to make sense of the week’s top news stories.
KATE ELAZEGUI We’re also trying to think more inventively about how we tell stories on paper, whether that’s with a photograph, a drawing, an illustration or a sculpture – we don’t always want to do an 800 word written text.
What will remain?
LAYER Our Sunday columnists — Maureen Dowd, Ross Douthat and Jamelle Bouie — will now appear at the start of the section. We are also adding a fourth columnist, to be announced later this summer. And we will always have guest essays and the editorial board of The New York Times.
ELAZEGUI We have also tried to clarify who these people are. It’s important online and in print to try to make transparent the divide between news and opinion, as well as who represents the voice of the institution: it’s our columnists, it’s our committee members editors, they are our contributors.
How, specifically, did you clarify these roles for readers?
ELAZEGUI In print, we’ve moved the author bio to the top of each article so the reader doesn’t have to wonder who wrote it. These are little design things we can do to be as clear as possible. For example, editorials are explicitly labeled with the editorial board, and we use titles and capitals. It looks, visually, like a different type of voice.
What do you hope to accomplish with the new vision?
LAYER We want the Sunday section to set the agenda for the week in terms of what people are talking about and thinking. We want to be a platform for people to engage with each other.
ELAZEGUI I hope people feel like news isn’t homework. If you’re having a dinner party, we say, “Here are the things people are going to talk about or the points of view you’ve never heard or read about before.”