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

post #1 of 110
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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.
post #2 of 110
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?
post #3 of 110
Thank god Rupert Murdock is not the only one aggressively targeting iPad.
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post #4 of 110
As would seem fitting, I found out about this news online.
post #5 of 110
Wouldn't be surprised if those hotel papers end up on in room iPads too.
post #6 of 110
Bye, bye, Flash.
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post #7 of 110
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.
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post #8 of 110
Sounds like the death of yet another American newspaper, reborn as a content farm.
post #9 of 110
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.
post #10 of 110
Good for them. No sense in bemoaning the imminent death of another paper or periodical, adjust and adapt to survive.

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post #11 of 110
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.
post #12 of 110
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
post #13 of 110
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.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #14 of 110
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.
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post #15 of 110
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.
post #16 of 110
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.
post #17 of 110
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.
post #18 of 110
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.
post #19 of 110
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.
post #20 of 110
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 ..

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post #21 of 110
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.
post #22 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by john galt View Post

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

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

Hey sucker! (Your term of endearment I'm sure!) I know exactly what I pay for and what I don't. I do not have a line item on my bill for USA Today. The price may be built into the cost of the stay but some places they have a sponsor (a sticker on the paper proudly explains that this paper was brought to you compliments of blah- blah-blah).

I would not take the thing unless it were truly free - very fluff content.

I don't get the McNews comment - are you implying that USA Today is like McDonalds? I sure wouldn't want to be like that mega bazillion dollar corp that has been successfully selling there product for over a half century with no end in sight (and internationally too). Not my favorite place to eat but makes a fair number of people happy (including stock holders I'm sure). Just cause it is not a place I would usually choose does not mean they do not serve a purpose.
post #23 of 110
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.

And welcome in the Adobe walled garden, where the trees are greener.

post #24 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pascal007 View Post

And welcome in the Adobe walled garden, where the trees are greener.


You should be able to run whatever software you want on your device.

I really shouldn't have to tell you this. A sane person would know it automatically. But I don't mind helping you out pal.
post #25 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackintosh View Post

You should be able to run whatever software you want on your device.

I really shouldn't have to tell you this. A sane person would know it automatically. But I don't mind helping you out pal.

You can't run whatever software you want on any platform. That has never been the case. Are there any programs on the iPhone that can't be run on an Android phone? Don't have to think to hard to find one. Maybe some people just like those programs.
post #26 of 110
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.

Couldn't agree more. I give USA-T high marks for their iPad app. (WSJ and NYT are pathetic, by comparison).

Memo to news companies doing iPad apps: Could you please build in a pinch-to-zoom feature? And the 'comments' feature?
post #27 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackintosh View Post

You should be able to run whatever software you want on your device.

I really shouldn't have to tell you this. A sane person would know it automatically. But I don't mind helping you out pal.

And the opposite is true : I shouldn't be coerced in using a program I don't want to use, like Flash for instance. However, the web site you originally referred to obviously thought otherwise and wants to tell me what's good for me by imposing some software I'm not interested in having.

So, following your logic, the website should have 2 versions : one for Flash-fans and one for sane people.
post #28 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

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

The Journal on the iPad is the slowest, buggiest, most locked-in app of the lot.

I happen to think it's shockingly poorly implemented, but I am just one data point.
post #29 of 110
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.

The larger question is why would anyone want to see Glen Beck or listen to his fringe rants?

Did you realize he uses Vicks Vapor Rub to induce those heartfelt tears?
post #30 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackintosh View Post

You should be able to run whatever software you want on your device.

I really shouldn't have to tell you this. A sane person would know it automatically. But I don't mind helping you out pal.

You are so right!!

I want to run PS3 and Xbox360 OS's on my ipad while streaming the blueray content for a multiplayer firstperson shooter/strategy game over 4G while videochatting with my pals in the upper left corner without any frame lag or ghosting.

I can't believe that Apple refuses to give me everything I want right now. It must be because of this stupid walled garden.


post #31 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

Hey sucker! (Your term of endearment I'm sure!) I know exactly what I pay for and what I don't. I do not have a line item on my bill for USA Today. The price may be built into the cost of the stay but some places they have a sponsor (a sticker on the paper proudly explains that this paper was brought to you compliments of blah- blah-blah).

On your folio or other room agreement you will find small text to the effect "I agree to daily delivery of the USAToday for 75¢". Look for it - it's there, with the disclaimer that you can decline their gracious offer and will be credited 75¢ if you do. Sometimes there's a check box to "decline" but that never works - you must request the refund. You will not find a line item for it on the folio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

I would not take the thing unless it were truly free - very fluff content.

Few things are "truly free". The McNews is not one of them.

I always make it a point to decline delivery and demand my 75¢, which invariably confuses the pimply faced kid at the front desk. Sometimes they'll find a way to make their Windows - centric billing system apply the appropriate credit, but often they'll simply take three quarters from petty cash.

The money is of no consequence to me - I am just unwilling to contribute to the decline of literacy in this country.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

I don't get the McNews comment - are you implying that USA Today is like McDonalds?

Not necessarily - I didn't coin the term (trivia question - who did? ). It's frankly an insult to McDonald's, a superbly well run company with an excellent product. I own plenty MCD but I don't eat there either - it's too damn addictive!

At least their food has some nutritional content... and doesn't contribute to the decline of literacy in this country.
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post #32 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by estyle View Post

You are so right!!

I want to run PS3 and Xbox360 OS's on my ipad while streaming the blueray content for a multiplayer firstperson shooter/strategy game over 4G while videochatting with my pals in the upper left corner without any frame lag or ghosting.

I can't believe that Apple refuses to give me everything I want right now. It must be because of this stupid walled garden.



Gotta love posters like Blackintosh who are against a free market and dont even realize it. They keep saying how Apple should be forced to do exactly what they want despite how it would affect Apples business but as soon as you point out that fact they deny it.
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post #33 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by john galt View Post

I always make it a point to decline delivery and demand my 75¢, which invariably confuses the pimply faced kid at the front desk.

I've never come across one at the front desk of a hotel. But plenty at McD's.

What kind of hotels do you stay in!?
post #34 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Gotta love posters like Blackintosh who are against a free market and dont even realize it. They keep saying how Apple should be forced to do exactly what they want despite how it would affect Apples business but as soon as you point out that fact they deny it.

Right on. Not unlike those TPs who claim to be against government-run healthcare, but cannot seem to give up on their Medicare.
post #35 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

What kind of hotels do you stay in!?


Strike "pimply faced kid" and insert "illegal alien"
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post #36 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by john galt View Post


Strike "pimply faced kid" and insert "illegal alien"

That, I've seen many.
post #37 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Right on. Not unlike those TPs who claim to be against government-run healthcare, but cannot seem to give up on their Medicare.

Jon Stewart had some great shows this week. I love when he tears Glenn Beck a new one. Im amazed to see one person contradict themselves so frequently.
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post #38 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by hatchjt View Post

It works on desktops too, of course,

Great! Here's what we'll see

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post #39 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

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..

That is not Gannett's way. Many of the 130 people cut will be content creators, otherwise known as reporters and editors, without whom the iPad will display more blank story templates. Oh, wait, they'll be displaying iAds for the companies in the few stories that remain.

I worked for a Gannett paper. These "massive restructurings" occur every few years when a new person with an exciting theory of organization from business school decides that the news operation is all wrong. The result is always the same: Fewer people find and report news, more people "present" it. That, even more than the shift away from paper, will kill newspapers, because there has to be news to read whatever the delivery medium.
post #40 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

The Journal on the iPad is the slowest, buggiest, most locked-in app of the lot.

I happen to think it's shockingly poorly implemented, but I am just one data point.

Have you tried the NPR app for the iPad? Other news providers could do far worse than to simply copy their presentation, or a least build off it.

As for USA Today, I also only read this newspaper when it's free, at hotels and such. It's not quite a joke, but close. This paper was created to appeal to people with short attention spans. Ironically this makes it ideal for the internet so if they can figure out how to repackage their stingy, watered-down content and pointless, goofy graphics, they might actually have a hit on their hands. The impression of knowledge without real understanding -- it's what most people seem to want anyway.
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