The Monitor's New Look

A NOTE TO OUR READERS

TODAY'S issue of The Christian Science Monitor contains the first of a series of improvements we plan for the coming year.

Our goal: to make the paper more interesting and easier for you to use.

We hope you will find ''The News in Brief'' on Page 2 to be a helpful daily addition to the paper. It will provide a tightly written, comprehensive summary of the most important news for readers.

The summary items will guide you to related stories as well as provide information not available elsewhere in the paper.

''The News in Brief'' will also offer a selection of what we hope will be both informative and entertaining items in the ''Etcetera'' section of the page.

Our editorials move today to Page 20, where they join the editorial cartoon, which has run there for some time.

We think it makes sense to have the Monitor's editorial comment on the news -- in both written and cartoon form -- appear in one place.

The Monitor's motto and wheat sheaf insignia return to the outside cover, where they appeared when Mary Baker Eddy founded the paper in 1908.

Op-ed pieces offering analysis and commentary on significant events will run on Page 19 and reader letters on Page 18.

We plan more special opinion-page items like last Friday's in-depth interview with Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, chairman of the National Governors' Association, and the ''Contract Watch'' feature, which tracks the progress of the Republicans' congressional agenda.

IN early February, we will launch a regular Friday movie guide with thumbnail sketches of films now being shown in theaters around the country.

To help Monitor readers make their own decisions about what movies to see, we will include both a rating system (one to four stars) and information about motion picture content that some readers may find objectionable.

Also in February, a personal finance column will debut on the Economy page. We want to help our readers deal successfully with challenges like saving for college, buying or upgrading a home, and retirement planning.

This column will supplement the help that Monitor writer Laurent Belsie offers in his Tuesday column, ''Computers for the Rest of Us.''

NEXT month, we will also be assigning a full-time reporter to the family issues beat.

How we raise and educate our children, how we juggle work and family responsibilities, and how we care for our parents: These are some of the issues veteran Monitor writer Marilyn Gardner will tackle in her new assignment.

While many of the changes we plan will add to the information we bring readers, some improvements frankly aim to entertain. In March, for example, we plan to respond to repeated reader requests and reintroduce a crossword puzzle.

While improving the newspaper remains our primary focus, a Publishing Society team is busy exploring an on-line version of the Monitor to complement our print edition.

An electronic version of the Monitor available on the Internet would help us introduce the paper to a new generation of information seekers who get their news via modem on their computers.

Electronic distribution would also let us speed news to subscribers in remote areas who are not well served by mail delivery.

We welcome your comments about the Monitor. We are eager to know what you think of the paper and how we can serve you better.

Please feel free to contact us. The address is: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115. The fax number is: 617-450-2358. The Internet address is: cook@moses.csps.com.

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