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Top 10 changes in the paper you're holding headed your way

The state sales tax was being increased to get California some much-needed money. Planning was under way for a statewide water project. The president was declaring his programs a huge success. Economic woes were wreaking havoc around the world. Crime was on the increase. And there was talk of creating superbrains.

Those were front-page headlines on a hot summer day in 1933 when this newspaper officially was renamed The Modesto Bee. That front page also carried 16 other stories, a small photo, baseball scores and a "Flapper Fanny" cartoon.

While some of the headlines haven't changed, most everything else has in the 75 years since that first Modesto Bee rolled off the press.

And now we're about to change again.

A week and a day from now, the paper delivered to your home or business will be slightly different from the one you hold.

It'll still be The Modesto Bee, filled with news and information about the people, agencies, businesses, events and issues in our communities.

But starting Monday, Sept. 29, we're making some subtle and not-so-subtle changes in the paper's design, organization and content. Here's my Top 10 list of changes you'll see:

1 A slimmer Bee: We're shifting to the industry's new standard page width, which is about an inch narrower than the page you're looking at today. Across the country, reader reaction to the slimmer page has been largely positive.

2 A reconfigured Bee: To accommodate the new width, meet our printing and delivery deadlines and help you make the most of your time with us, we've overhauled and in some cases shifted some of the regular elements in the paper. Each day during the week, we'll remind you where things are.

3 A more colorful Bee: As we announced earlier, starting with that Sept. 29 edition, we'll be printing our paper at our sister Bee in Sacramento. Among the benefits of that move is a significantly greater color capacity throughout the paper.

4 A comics page that's livelier: Not only will your daily Bee have more color overall, but it'll feature full-color comics not just Sundays but every day of the week. Many of you have requested that over the years, and with this move we're able to give you what you want.

5 An A section with attitude: The Opinions pages are returning to their original home, at the back of the first section of the paper. Six days a week, you'll receive a double dose of views from the right, the left and everything in between; Monday we'll give you a single page of editorials, letters and columns.

6 A beefed-up B section: Work & Money will join Local News and the Weather page to create a more robust B section Tuesday through Saturday. The day's top business stories will be on A-1 or B-1, with the rest packaged inside the B section; on Sunday, Work & Money will continue to be a standalone section.

7 Six days of stocks: As part of the Work & Money changes, we've revamped the daily financial listings. And on Sunday we're adding a weekly wrap on Wall Street's ups and downs.

8 A single home-sweet-home section: We're marrying two of our popular Saturday sections -- Valley Homes and Your Home -- to create a one-stop guide to buying, selling and making the most of your real estate. The section will feature the weekly "Sold in Your Neighborhood" home sales lists that currently appear in Friday's paper. Your Home stories on home improvements, decorating, landscaping and such will be packaged as a convenient pullout in the middle of the section.

9 Some new features: We're saying goodbye to a few old friends, but are adding a number of exciting new elements. First out of the gate will be "Every Monday Matters," a weekly column by Matthew Emerzian, who co-wrote a book by the same name. Emerzian grew up in Modesto, but now lives in Los Angeles. His column will appear on, of course, Mondays, in LifeStyles.

10 Lots of links to modbee.com: We want to help you make the most of the wealth of additional information, unique content and constant conversation that's on our Web site. On the back page of the A section each day you'll find a guide to some of the top items on modbee.com, as well as things planned in the newspaper in coming days.

While some of our design, organization and content may be changing, one thing that isn't changing -- now or in the future -- is our commitment to quality public service journalism.

That was our commitment in 1933, that's our commitment in 2008, and that will be our commitment for years to come.

Mark S. Vasché, editor and senior vice president, can be reached at 578-2351 or mvasche@modbee.com.

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