The USA Today is a national daily newspaper in America, headquartered in

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TheUSA Today is a national daily newspaper in America, headquartered inTysons Corner, Virginia. The newspaper was first established inSeptember 1982 by Al Neuharth and published by Gannett Company. Therival newspapers to USA Today in terms of circulation in America areThe New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. The statistics byAudit Bureau of Circulations indicate that by March 2012, thenewspaper had over 1.8 million copies. This was after The Wall StreetJournal that had 2.1 million copies. Currently, the USA Today is themost circulated newspaper in United States and is available in allthe fifty states. Also, the newspaper can be found in Canada, UnitedKingdom and District of Columbia among others. In newsstands, thenewspaper sells at US $2, it is free online, and it is free at theairports and hotels that help in the distribution of the newspaper tocustomers.1

Historyof USA Today

Thefirst prototype of USA today was printed by Gannett in June 1981.Initially, the regional prototypes by the same publisher were theEast Bay Today and Oakland Tribune morning edition in late 1970s. InDecember 1981, the launch of USA Today got the Board of Directors` inGannett. In September 1982, the USA Today was launched in Baltimoreat a cost of 25 cents. The circulation was so immense that during theend of 1985, the USA Today was recorded as the second largestnewspaper in America with a 1.4 million circulation.2The first international edition of the USA Today started on May, 1986through the Switzerland satellite. By January 1988, the newspaper hadpublished a very huge edition ever, of the Super Bowl edition made upof 78 pages, with 48.38 pages of advertising. The edition sold over 2million copies. The newspaper launched a print edition Monday-FridayInternational, in 1994 instead of Tuesday to Saturday in order toenhance the accessibility by business travelers.

Thefirst website was launched in April 1995, and by October 1999, thenewspaper was already running the front page ads. In 2010, the APIfor sharing data was launched. This enabled sharing of data with allpartners. The was acquired in January 2014 for all theother 31 versions within the network. This increased the inserts to35, and it was objected at shoring up the circulation of USA todayafter it emerged the topmost circulating newspaper on a weekly basisin October 2013. By September 2014, the newspaper cut approximately70 jobs. By October 2014, the newspaper collaborated with Open WagerInc in releasing the Bingo Cruise app.3

Formatsand Layouts of USA Today

Currently,the USA Today has set records in its synthesis on news intounderstandable formats. Each edition is composed of four sections onNews, Life, Money and Sports. The Friday editions contain additionaltwo life sections on entertainment and travel. The internationaledition reduces the four sections into two Life and Sports, andMoney and News. USA Today does not print on Weekends instead, Fridayedition serves the purpose. Each complete story is normally printedon the front page except for the cover story that is relativelylonger. The different sections are distinguished by using differentcolors. News section is blue, and money is green, sport is red andlife is purple, while the bonus sections are represented by orange.Normally, bonus sections are featured in certain days as outlinedabove, especially during business holidays and quiet weeks.

TheUSA Today aims at coming up with a completely new and outstandinglayout, such as, using reefers at left hard section, about a quarterpage. Also, the front page contains blurbs that refer to the storiesinside, as well as use of Gulliver font for stories and headlines.The back page contains weather maps for all states within America andother cities worldwide. The weather meteorologists are the ones thatgive the data regarding the weather. This is also accompanied by asmall section that explains the meteorology phenomena entitledweather focus. Also, in money sections, the USA Today reserves asmall section at the back that explains the performance of thedifferent industry groups and how they function weekly, monthly andquarterly against the S7P 500. Additionally, USA does not contain anycomic strips like other nations worldwide.3

Regardingbook coverage, the newspaper contains national sales chart andreviews, normally published on Thursdays in the Life section. Thepaper also publishes the media base survey on various music genresdepending on the spins on radio airplay on Tuesdays. Some of thethings that the newspaper has retained is the lead story on upperright-hand section of the front page, with political cartoons andcommentary on last pages of the news section. The money sectioncontains information such as mutual funds and stocks. Nevertheless,the newspaper differs in terms of esthetics because of theneo-Victorian design.

Developmentsof USA Today

Duringthe initial stages, the USA Today was considered as flashy withtrivial but clever ideas. Nevertheless, 15 years later, the newspaperhas emerged amongst the topmost selling national newspapers inAmerica. The average five-day circulation is 2.2 million, with thecirculation continuing to grow rapidly. This figure is rivaledclosely by Wall Street Journal, with almost all other types ofnewspaper are declining in their circulation levels. Reports showthat the USA Today’s profitability has increased so much, reachingover $40 million annually.4The most important factor is that the newspaper is maturing with thecustomer perceptibility increasing throughout. New staffs areregularly recruited. For instance, the last 15 months have seen therecruitment in 25 positions for the editorial staff, and this ispersistently improving the news` coverage quality. The newspaper isbecoming of age with success and respectability being realizedthrough the in-depth and originality in their coverage.

Therefore,it is absolutely undoubtable that the leadership in USA Today hascontributed greatly to the success of the newspaper. The quality ofjournalism has been a major contributor towards this success,alongside the publisher and presidents who have seen the quality ofthe paper cascade. The major reasons that the paper was not receivedwell initially was because it was loaded with short stories withoutjumps from one page to the next and roundup of news from every state.The paper was never expressed interest in foreign states. This madeit to be referred as a junk-food journalism by Neuharth as it lackedseriousness.5

Nevertheless,Gannet and Neuharth were convinced that the paper was stillpotentially marketable hence they backed their convictions usingserious money. Reports show that the publisher realized over $800million losses between 1906 and 1993. Fortunately, by 1993, the USAToday started realizing profits. Neuharth had predicted earlyprofitability, but it appeared to be overly optimistic. Nevertheless,the breakthrough was in 1993 after their realized an approximately $5million. This was followed by $10 million in 1994. This set themomentum with earnings at prime rate. Though this was less profitablethan other dailies in terms of percentage, it was a cash cow forGannett. The success was critical.

Accordingto David Broder of Washington Post, the USA Today was doing prettywell. He noted that despite the large amounts of money they spend onthe newspaper, the returns were evident. Their distribution wassuperb. McFeatters noted that the USA Daily was seriously enteringinto the Whitehouse and cutting across all top-level briefings.6

Thesuccess of the newspaper was achieved through much pain, withsignificant blood on newsroom floors of tear-shaped skyscrapers inArlington towering over the monumental Washington DC. The drive tothe top for the newspaper has been achieved at a cost of both peopleand finances, and there was no stranger to reportorial or executiveburnout. The national staffs involved with reporting were recentlysquirrel-caged of goings and shortcomings. The success has beenachieved through trepidation as the bosses try to improve theproduct, and the innocent staff keeps hurting.7The working conditions, as noted by some staff experience someparanoia, editors fear their bosses` response regarding the standardsof the work done and pronouncements of higher expectations. However,the newspaper has emerged a success despite all those odds.8

Aprominent media writer, Ben Bagdikian, and a lecturer at theUniversity of California criticized USA Today as mediocre journalismthat gives a flawed picture of the world on a daily basis. However,today, the same man notes that greatest achievement that the paperhas made, and the seriousness involved therewith. He also notes thatthe paper ignored the assumption that each person who bought thepaper only needed to read for 30 second since the paper was soshallow.9

Also,an AJR columnist, John Morton, wrote in 1982 that the list of thenational newspapers in circulation was minimal and in existence. Inthis case, the USA Today was an avenue for losing much money so fast.However, recently, the same person noted that that it is obvious thattoday those newspapers are a success. He noted that USA Today isamong the newspapers having an attractive growing circulation. Hesays that he was critical because the paper was full of fluffierpieces, but it was on a light note. He commends the USA Today’seditors for focusing their efforts on hard news, with less likelihoodof getting the headlines or front page with silly topics. They havesucceeded in making it more serious than never before.9

Accordingto the CEO, Neuharth, none of whatever they went through is anaccident. He believed that this enabled them increase theirtechniques and innovativeness for the paper to be the way it iscurrently. He believes that more changes are still coming. Neuharthbought the USA Today against much resistance from top executives, andhe notes that it was by choice. He stepped down as the Gannetchairman in 1989, at 65, and became the head of Freedom Forum.10

Itis noted that the Neuharth`s successors have abandoned, deliberately,the most trivial concepts by Neuharth. In 1991, under the flagship ofPeter Prichard, the move towards hard news is discernable. However,the massive changes towards product upgrading and big changes neverbegin until when TOM Curley became president in 1994. Curley was aGannett veteran and was present during the creation of USA Today. Hismajor emphasis has been on hard news. After he had taken theleadership, Curley masterminded the restructuring during which he putBob Dubil and editor, in charge of daily products. Bob was muchloved, and the paper had a real boss, since its inception. Thereafter, sharp changes took place, with the four sections havingexperienced new editors. The major changes were realized in 1995 whenthe Associated Press alumnus and USA Today veteran, David Mazzrellabecame the editor. Others were Hal Ritter, a hard-driving manager fornews. The team played a critical role in establishing a qualityproduct. According to circulation figures, the newspaper wasconsidered to be working from the box office.

Whilethe USA Today has incarnated and become a very famous product, theother newspapers have been experiencing the opposite. Most of themare copying the admirable innovations from USA Today and cheapeningtheir products through frills and gimmicks. Ironically, most of thesepapers are losing circulation even after copying some innovationsfrom USA Today. The USA today is still gaining respectability andsolidity, with huge success being realized in the marketplace.8

However,the editors in USA Today do not consider themselves to havesucceeded. Rather, they believe they are better that they used to beand look forward towards becoming better. According to them, theyalready have the formulas to achieve long-term success. The paperscores highly in its delivery of timely news normally because of thelate timelines. The newspaper has established a deserved and enviablereputation for its ability in providing late scores in sports.11

Theeditors are ambitious to improve the newspaper, hence concentrate onstrengthening the staff, in both quality and size. Apart from the newrecruitment, editors are converted to reporters. According to theleadership, the paper was becoming top-heavy with the editors withreporters not given opportunity to initiate things as most decisionswere made in the office. As a result, Ritter promised to change thatculture and expressed his objective of making reporters are in thecapacity to work as editors and vice versa.

Also,the paper has marked a major beginning for the foreign staffs withgreat efforts made towards increasing the foreign coverage.Currently, the newspaper has three major correspondents in Europe,one in Hong Kong, and there are plans to expand to Middle East andMoscow. The paper is also increasing the domestic bureaus. In 2012,the domestic bureaus were four and by May 2014, the bureaus were 15.

Significantchanges have taken place on the news staff covering the nationalnews. The newspaper is outsourcing some of the established newspapertalents, with the editors removing those they believe are not up tothe tasks. For instance, in this year, nine reporters have beenhired. Since Ritter rose to power in 1995, many reporters have beenpoached from New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Associated Pressamongst other newspaper.11


TheUSA Today has made remarkable progress of the years. In future, it isnot clear where the newspaper would exactly be, or even how far thenewspaper will go. Nevertheless, it is clear that the baby byNeuharth has matured though it is still continuing develop. This mayjust be a fulfillment for Neuharth of USA Today becoming a TrueNational Newspaper.


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Gladney,George Albert. &quotUSA Today, Its Imitators, and Its Critics: DoNewsroom Staffs Face an Ethical Dilemma?&quot Journalof Mass Media Ethics8.1 (1993): 17-36. Web.

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Tiersky,Ethel, and Esther Dickstein. USAToday. Read All about It: Mastering Reading Comprehension andCritical Thinking Skills.United States: National Textbook, 1995. Print.

USAToday Sudoku 2 200 Puzzles from the Nation`s No. 1 Newspaper.N.p.: Andrews McMeel Pub, 2011. Print.

USAToday Logic Puzzles 200 Puzzles from the Nation`s No. 1 Newspaper.N.p.: Andrews McMeel Pub, 2008. Print.

USAToday Logic 200 Puzzles from the Nation`s No. 1 Newspaper.N.p.: Andrews McMeel Pub, 2011. Print.

1 USA Today Sudoku 2 200 Puzzles from the Nation`s No. 1 Newspaper. N.p.: Andrews McMeel Pub, 2011. Print.

2 Sylvie, George, and Patricia Dennis. Witherspoon. Time, Change and the American Newspaper. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002. Print.

3 Broderick, James F. and Darren W. Miller. Consider the Source: A Critical Guide to 100 Prominent News and Information Sites on the Web. Medford, NJ: CyberAge /Information Today, 2007. Print.

4 USA Today Logic Puzzles 200 Puzzles from the Nation`s No. 1 Newspaper. N.p.: Andrews McMeel Pub, 2008. Print.

5 USA Today Logic 200 Puzzles from the Nation`s No. 1 Newspaper. N.p.: Andrews McMeel Pub, 2011. Print.

6 Tiersky, Ethel, and Esther Dickstein. USA Today. Read All about It: Mastering Reading Comprehension and Critical Thinking Skills. United States: National Textbook, 1995. Print.

7 Gladney, George Albert. &quotUSA Today, Its Imitators, and Its Critics: Do Newsroom Staffs Face an Ethical Dilemma?&quot Journal of Mass Media Ethics 8.1 (1993): 17-36. Web.

8 Geraci, P. C. &quotNewspaper Illustration and Readership: Is USA Today on Target?&quot Journalism &amp Mass Communication Quarterly 61.2 (1984): 409-13. Web.

9 Mogel, Leonard. The Newspaper: Everything You Need to Know to Make It in the Newspaper Business. Pittsburgh: GATFPress, 2000. Print.

10 Kiron, David, Michael Tushman, and Michael J. Roberts. USA Today: Pursuing the Network Strategy (A). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Pub., 2002. Print.

11 Schaefer, Todd M., and Thomas A. Birkland. Encyclopedia of Media and Politics. Washington, D.C.: CQ, 2007. Print