School's out, and lots of folks take summer vacations. So even though it's the busiest time of year for those in the tourism business, you might think summer is the time when the pace of life generally slows.

But that's not true in the news business. It's especially not true this summer here at the Gloucester Daily Times. And that goes beyond our coverage of a lot of significant local news stories — from the Gloucester High School pregnancy issues to concern over local water and sewer rates and the advancement of developer Sam Park's Gloucester Crossing project.

There have also been a lot of changes and a lot of excitement here at the Times. And while some have been obvious, others have been more subtle, some are still in the works, and all are designed as positive steps to help us better serve you as your community's newspaper.

The most recognizable changes have come through an expansion of products developed by our news, advertising, production and circulation teams. Just since Memorial Day, those have included:

Expanding and improving the Cape Ann Summer Guide, with 56 glossy, color pages of tips, event calendars and listings of where to stay, dine, shop and enjoy the outdoors when visiting our region,

Launching TV Spotlight, the Times' first weekly TV magazine Saturday, with listings for shows throughout the week. That project also includes an online component at gloucestertimes.com, where visitors an find the full magazine, plus video previews of some of your favorite TV shows and a comment blog specific to TV and the entertainment world.

The premiere issue of Cape Ann magazine itself — which is still in the finishing stages and will be out in a couple of weeks. The magazine includes stories, features and scores of photographs by Times staffers and other contributors, but is very much its own entity, focusing on the spirit of Cape Ann living rather than the traditional news and feature stories you've come to expect from the Times.

Finally, we've seen a significant expansion of the Times editing staff, coupled with the installation of a new computer system that allows us to produce all of our news and sports pages in-house right here on Whittemore Street.

That last change is one you probably haven't even noticed, but it's one that — while still in a bit of transition — makes a big difference in the way that we produce the paper and daily Web site. All of our news, sports and feature stories, photos, information listings, editorials and special presentations such as the weekly "Friends & Neighbors" page that debuted earlier this year has been under local direction and control, but until these past few weeks, the final editing and design work has actually been carried out in North Andover. Now, the addition of Daytime News Editor Andrea Holbrook, Features Page designer Scott Pytlik, and Assistant Night News Editor Matt Delman to our local team — combined with the new technology — gives us the opportunity to have all of our page editors and writers together under the same roof. That should make a subtle but significant difference in the communication involving our day-to-day stories and special projects.

All of these expansions and changes have come, of course, during a summer season when many of our own folks — including me — have had vacation time as well. And you may ask, why in the world an company would undertake these projects during the supposedly slow days of summer. So, indeed, why is your community's newspaper doing that?

Because in the rapidly changing media landscape, the Times, in various ways, continued to grow. Given the wants and needs of our readers and advertisers, there's no better time than now to launch these new products and shore up our in-house reporting, editing and page design when it comes to delivering you the best local news and information coverage of your communities every day.

You see, our commitment to serving you — just like the news itself — doesn't slow down during the summer, or at any other time of year. As always please let me know what you think.

Questions? Comments? Is there a subject you'd like to see addressed in a future column? Contact Times Editor Ray Lamont at rlamont@gloucestertimes.com.

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