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BOB HEISSE: New Times digital design, growing civility highlight growth

BOB HEISSE: New Times digital design, growing civility highlight growth

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A long-awaited redesign of our website and digital platforms will debut this week, and we think you’ll like it.

Highly visual and more organized are two of the exciting changes coming to www.nwi.com starting Wednesday.

Perhaps the highlight is it will bring us responsive design, meaning the experience of the website will be replicated on tablets and phones.

This comes at a great time, as we’re coming off record digital page views and visits in January. A lot of breaking news, rich photo galleries, our new history site and an increasing social media reach led to new heights last month.

We think you’ll find this new design appealing and less cumbersome. We have a steady volume of daily content, and this will present it in a more pleasing and organized way.

The new design will introduce a left-rail navigation listing that will become familiar shortly after you first use it. From there you can bookmark pages you enjoy.

All of our featured pages will improve, but one in particular that will shine is the Regional Crime Report.

The maps that make up the Regional Crime Report are produced at Indiana University Northwest in partnership with local law enforcement agencies. The new design will enlarge the maps, making them mobile-friendly anding add easy-to-use share features.

The maps, updated weekly, should be shared because they track crime by neighborhood or any way you want to look at it. We applaud Gary, East Chicago, Griffith, Munster, Schererville, Michigan City, Valparaiso, Portage, Highland, St. John and Whiting for being a part of this community. Others are welcome.

Make it a point to access the maps later this week to see the new display and share them.

For checking breaking news several times a day and night, like many of you do, the experience will improve when the redesign takes hold. We look forward to hearing your feedback.

In the meantime, there’s no better time for print subscribers to activate your digital subscription. Doing so, by clicking on the blue activate button on our home page, will give you unlimited online access to the website, apps and e-edition.

About a week after you activate you’ll receive an email invitation to start a full year of free premium digital access to The Washington Post. This is a great value added to your print subscription.

Civility Counts

I’m not a fan of political polls, particularly the presidential campaign polls that national broadcast news seems to highlight nightly, but one type of survey recently caught my eye.

The sixth installment of “Civility in America,” the ongoing poll by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate with KRC Research, included nonpartisan findings that should draw the attention of candidates and their support personnel.

In all, 83 percent of likely voters said they are paying attention to national politics, and 93 percent said a candidate’s tone or level of civility will be an important factor in how they vote for president.

Nearly all Americans, 95 percent, said civility is a problem, according to the online poll conducted for a week in January, and 70 percent said incivility in the country has risen to “crisis” levels.

These findings are notable, particularly as we see growing interest and participation in Community Civility Counts, a local effort that began last spring as a partnership between the Gary Chamber of Commerce and The Times Media Co.

Late last month, we were honored to attend as the state Senate approved a resolution recognizing Community Civility Counts as “delivering an awareness campaign to remind everyone about the need for civility and treating each other right.”

Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, introduced the resolution, and Sens. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, and Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, supported it with remarks.

Recently the campaign has been showcasing anti-bullying efforts in schools and working on a model classroom initiative at Lighthouse College Prep Academy in Gary. You can follow our activities on the Civility Counts Facebook page or at www.nwi.com/CivilityCounts. We encourage you to use the #CivilityCounts hashtag to share civility examples.

If you’d like to spread the word about Community Civility Counts, we have business cards to hand out and posters for display in a classroom or workplace. Please contact me if you’d like to help.

It’s for everyone, and it’s especially needed this national election year.

Thanks for reading us. Please contact me with any questions about The Times or our many publications.

Bob Heisse is editor of The Times Media Co. He can be reached at (219) 933-3327 or bob.heisse@nwi.com.

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