USA Today plans 'radical' overhaul to focus on devices like iPad

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
In a drastic shake-up, USA Today is restructuring in order to focus more on mobile and iPad content and less on print.



Details of the reorganization were announced Thursday and reported by The Associated Press. Roughly 130 staff will be cut during "the most dramatic overhaul" in the newspaper's 28-year history.



Despite being the second largest newspaper in the US, USA Today has struggled to keep circulation up and sell advertising in recent years. Circulation has dropped from 2.3 million in 2007, when USA Today was America's largest newspaper, to an average of 1.83 million. In its most recent quarter, the newspaper sold just 580 pages of advertising, compared to 1,098 pages sold in the same quarter of 2006.



USA Today's parent company, Gannett Co., which also owns over 80 smaller newspapers, has seen its stock plummet by 78% over the past four years.



Thursday's announcement is a radical solution to reverse the paper's downward trend. Separate managing editors overseeing sections of the paper will instead be replaced by a cluster of "content rings" overseen by an executive editor of content.



According to an internal slideshow obtained by The AP, USA Today will "focus less on print ... and more on producing content for all platforms (Web, mobile, iPad and other digital formats)."



"We have to go where the audience is," USA Today Editor John Hillkirk said. "If people are hitting the iPad like crazy, or the iPhone or other mobile devices, we've got to be there with the content they want, when they want it."



Another change, which is proving to be controversial, is the increased collaboration between the editorial and business side of the organization. USA Today hopes to "usher in a new way of doing business that aligns sales efforts with the content we produce."



The paper's publisher, Dave Hunke, reassured that the company's commitment to ethical journalism remained unchanged. "Under no circumstances do we ever compromise our integrity," Hunke said.



Gannett isn't the first media conglomerate to adjust its business model in response to the iPad. News Corp, which owns the reigning champion of US circulation rates, The Wall Street Journal, is going ahead with a plan to make a national digital newspaper geared toward the iPad and other mobile devices.



Last week, Time Inc.'s People became the first print magazine to offer subscribers free access to its corresponding iPad version.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 115
    Its hard to believe they can cut 130 people and not affect the quality of the paper they put out. I guess USA Today is the latest Yahoo or Google portal. Not so sure that is a good thing but I only read it when traveling since I usually get it free at the hotels I stay at.



    The realignment of the editorial to fit with marketing sounds fishy. Hard to keep much of an unbiased angle in your reporting that way eh?
  • Reply 2 of 115
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    Thank god Rupert Murdock is not the only one aggressively targeting iPad.
  • Reply 3 of 115
    As would seem fitting, I found out about this news online.
  • Reply 4 of 115
    esummersesummers Posts: 871member
    Wouldn't be surprised if those hotel papers end up on in room iPads too.
  • Reply 5 of 115
    Bye, bye, Flash.
  • Reply 6 of 115
    MacProMacPro Posts: 16,088member
    That 130 out of 1,500 will probably be replaced over time as they hire tech savvy people who can write HTML5 and designers for iAds etc.. It's not all doom and gloom, just the transition to a new technology. It has happened with many other industries for centuries. Having the sense not to be luddites is to the Gannett group's credit.
  • Reply 7 of 115
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,558member
    Sounds like the death of yet another American newspaper, reborn as a content farm.
  • Reply 8 of 115
    801801 Posts: 271member
    I think a quick survey of people who own apple products and also purchase USA Today ( as opposed to having one shoved under the hotel door) would have been a strong marketing research technique. That monosyllabic rag is for the uniformed who don"t want to know anything anyway.
  • Reply 9 of 115
    Good for them. No sense in bemoaning the imminent death of another paper or periodical, adjust and adapt to survive.
  • Reply 10 of 115
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 8CoreWhore View Post


    Bye, bye, Flash.



    Yeah right. How many iPad owners had to put down their shiny new glass tools and grab a real computer to watch the Glenn Beck festival in Washington? No flash, no deal.



    Screw the Apple walled garden.
  • Reply 11 of 115
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 11,923member
    Frankly i've had a few of those papers shoved under my hotel room door also. First i have to wonder why the hotel bothers as generally when in a hotel I'm more interested in local happenings. The strange thing is I have to wonder how much of USA Todays disyribution is to hotel rooms? Maybe it isn't to strange because I know of no one that buys it on a regular basis.



    In any event this brings up a suggestion to hotel managers of the world - fix your damn internet connections. Maybe I'm jinxed but hotel WiFi in many places sucks. I'd like respectable WiFi performance over a newspaper I use to wipe my shoes on. This is also why you see me in these forums wishing for a Mac Book AIR with a built in ethernet port.



    In any rate back to the content or lack there of. Does the management team at USA Today seriously think that what they serve up will fare any better on an iPad? It is the content baby! You can dismiss the Wall Street Journal if you want but at least they have content.



    In part the Wall Street Journal is successful because they have a focus. Something that is likely to make them successful on the internet too. It doesn't hurt that many readers of the WSJ value information and aren't affraid to pay for it. Which brings us back to USA Today, what is in there of value? Locally we have free papers that are more provocative in their editorial than USA Today.



    Personally I hope the whole organization dies. The last thing this world needs is a paper, even in electronic form, that takes our money for nothing in return.











    Dave
  • Reply 12 of 115
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blackintosh View Post


    Yeah right. How many iPad owners had to put down their shiny new glass tools and grab a real computer to watch the Glenn Beck festival in Washington? No flash, no deal.



    Screw the Apple walled garden.



    At first I thought you were being serious, then you mentioned Glenn Beck so I knew you were having a laugh. Then again, you do sound like his target audience.
  • Reply 13 of 115
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post


    Its hard to believe they can cut 130 people and not affect the quality of the paper they put out.



    It's hard to believe the quality of McNews could get any worse than it already is.



    Quote:

    I usually get it free at the hotels I stay at.



    The McNews is not free. You're paying for it (sucker!). Read your hotel folio.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    ... The strange thing is I have to wonder how much of USA Todays disyribution is to hotel rooms?



    Probably 90%, maybe more.

    Quote:

    Does the management team at USA Today seriously think



    I doubt they're capable of serious thought



    Proof?
    Quote:

    USA Today will "focus less on print ... and more on producing content for all platforms (Web, mobile, iPad and other digital formats)."



    Attention Einsteins at the AP: Print is content! Yours sucks!



    Quote:

    Which brings us back to USA Today, what is in there of value?



    Birdcage, packing material, kindling... to name a few.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 801 View Post


    I think a quick survey of people who own apple products and also purchase USA Today ...



    The union of Apple owners, who tend to be informed to begin with - and McNews readers, who aren't - would be too small to comprise a statistically valid sample.
  • Reply 14 of 115
    I've always thought of USA Today as the McDonalds of newspapers, something I would never seriously read, except when I'm on vacation and it's the only thing available.



    But they were one of the first with an iPad product, and they have what I think is the absolute best newspaper/magazine reader app. Better than NPR. Better than BBC. Way better than ABC.



    I read USA Today precisely because their software is so good. It's funny, isn't it. The quality of their iPad software is changing the way I think of their brand.
  • Reply 15 of 115
    If anyone from USA Today reads this I am part of your future target audience. I've never read a USA Today that wasn't already laying around at work or in a hotel, etc., and never paid for one. Yet, I read my USA Today iPhone app every morning. Even though I usually ignore the ads, every once in awhile I'll click on one that seems interesting. When I get an iPad next year I would consider paying a low subscription cost for it and for more access in the app.
  • Reply 16 of 115
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 6,970member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Blackintosh View Post


    Yeah right. How many iPad owners had to put down their shiny new glass tools and grab a real computer to watch the Glenn Beck festival in Washington? No flash, no deal.



    Screw the Apple walled garden.



    Glenn Beck? I suppose if someone wants to watch a train wreck, they'll go grab their other computer.
  • Reply 17 of 115
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by astrosmash View Post


    I've always thought of USA Today as the McDonalds of newspapers, something I would never seriously read, except when I'm on vacation and it's the only thing available.



    But they were one of the first with an iPad product, and they have what I think is the absolute best newspaper/magazine reader app. Better than NPR. Better than BBC. Way better than ABC.



    I read USA Today precisely because their software is so good. It's funny, isn't it. The quality of their iPad software is changing the way I think of their brand.





    Have you tried the Wall Street Journal, I think it's the best on the iPad.



    A lot of people are reading their iPads on the NYC Subway nowadays because it is just convenient to carry all your newspapers and magazines electronically. They also feature advanced video news and advertising.



    Companies that are worried about cannibalizing their print businesses and fail to adapt will lose big time.



    Time will tell.
  • Reply 18 of 115
    The problem is the content. "It's the content, stupid." USA Today's content is horribly biased with poor quality reporting. I wouldn't read if it were printed on gold plates, let alone the iPad. This is their problem.



    A pig in lipstick is still a pig.
  • Reply 19 of 115
    brucepbrucep Posts: 2,823member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post


    Its hard to believe they can cut 130 people and not affect the quality of the paper they put out. I guess USA Today is the latest Yahoo or Google portal. Not so sure that is a good thing but I only read it when traveling since I usually get it free at the hotels I stay at.



    The realignment of the editorial to fit with marketing sounds fishy. Hard to keep much of an unbiased angle in your reporting that way eh?



    USA today just said good bye .





    look dudes .>>> when I travel

    and get that free copy of USA TODAY under my hotel room door .

    I always loved the charts and graphs . And the bland empty stories ..



    9
  • Reply 20 of 115
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    Glenn Beck? I suppose if someone wants to watch a train wreck, they'll go grab their other computer.



    Not the point. The point is you can't do something you might otherwise want to do. Not because the technology doesn't exist. But because the CEO of the company has a personal issue with Adobe.
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