To Our Readers

Business pages' new features

June 18, 2006|By BERNIE KOHN | BERNIE KOHN,SUN BUSINESS EDITOR

Beginning Tuesday, you will see a number of changes in the weekday Business sections.

Each day's section will contain a new destination page on some of the topics you most care about.

Tuesdays will have a new Personal Finance page featuring a second weekly column by The Sun's Eileen Ambrose.

On Thursday, we bring back a condensed version of our former personal technology section, Plugged In, featuring Sun staffer Mike Himowitz's popular column.

On Friday, we will bring back a Real Estate page, combining Kenneth Harney's syndicated column on consumer real estate issues (which moves from Saturday) with several features familiar to Sun readers, including the weekly Dream Home feature.

And on Wednesday, we will fold most of the current content of the Working section into the Business section. Working is being discontinued as a separate section.

To make room for this new content, we will condense our daily financial markets report from two pages to one. It will emphasize information unique to Maryland: stocks of Maryland-based companies and major state employers, and mutual funds managed by Baltimore-area fund companies, banks and boutique firms.

We'll print local stocks and funds in larger type than we do now. We'll also provide more data on the stocks - including top local gainers and losers of the day and rankings by various statistical measures. We will have a consolidated list of stocks on the broader markets that will include your requests, although the number of daily listings will be about 40 percent of what we have now in our separate NYSE and NASDAQ/AMEX lists. You can make requests by e-mail at stocks@balt sun.com or phone at 410-332-6400.

We'll also provide daily information on the 30 most widely held mutual funds, as well as hundreds of locally managed funds.

However, we will discontinue daily listings of other mutual funds and use that space for our new content. This is, in part, a recognition that mutual funds are long-term investments - held by most people in retirement accounts - where day-to-day fluctuations are not that significant. Within the local mutual funds list, we will provide only the most widely held share class (usually Class A) for each fund.

Our four-page weekend markets package on Saturday, which contains listings of more than 1,600 mutual funds and 3,400 stocks, will be little changed.

Numerous other newspapers, including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and The Boston Globe, have substantially reduced or eliminated market listings in their print editions in recent months, particularly on weekdays. Newsprint savings is a big part of the reason. But newspapers also are recognizing that most readers have turned to financial Web sites for markets information. Even among Business section readers of The Sun, only about half turn to the tables each day.

More detailed markets information, including quotes for stocks and funds not listed in The Sun's print editions, will continue to be available at http:--www. baltimore sun.com/business/investing/

Still, we realize that many of those readers who still get markets information in the printed paper are not comfortable obtaining that information by computer. To ensure that this information remains available to these readers, The Sun has arranged to offer readers stock quotes by telephone free through TellMe, a voice-activated service used by a number of other newspapers. Our redesigned daily package will contain guidance on how to use this service.

If you have comments, concerns or questions about these changes, feel free to call us at 410-332-6400 or e-mail me at the address below. We will either answer or return every call and e-mail. Bernie Kohn Assistant Managing Editor/Business

bernie.kohn@baltsun.com

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