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USA Today shifts focus from print to digital

August 29, 2010

Nation’s No. 2 paper will lay off 130 employees

By Bill Cromwell
Aug 27, 2010

It’s not going as far as to abandon print for digital, but USA Today is shaking up its approach to the news by de-emphasizing the print brand and focusing more on the web and mobile devices.

The result of that shakeup will be another round of layoffs in the beleaguered industry, with 9 percent of the Gannett publication’s 1,500 employees getting the boot.

The plan was laid out yesterday for the staff of the newspaper, which is No. 2 in circulation to the Wall Street Journal.

“We’ll focus less on print … and more on producing content for all platforms (Web, mobile, iPad and other digital formats),” said a slide in a show played for the staff to announce the changes. The Associated Press got a copy of the presentation.

Roughly 130 people will be laid off as the paper eliminates individual managing editor positions for the Sports, News, Money and Life sections and replaces them with so-called content rings, which will focus on different subject areas.

The shakeup comes amidst circulation and advertising declines at the paper, which shook up the staid newspaper industry when it debuted with colorful graphics and short, punchy stories in 1983.

Since 2007, USA Today has lost nearly a half-million readers. And the AP reports that ad pages during second quarter were off by half from 2006.

Yesterday AP officials were careful not to back themselves into any corners, saying only that they’ll follow the eyeballs in terms of what their focus will be. If the iPad or iPhone apps are drawing lots of hits, expect more attention on them.

Still, the newspaper is making at least one hire amidst the layoffs: Rudd Davis, founder of, is joining as vice president of business development.

Bill Cromwell is a staff writer for Media Life. © 2010 Media Life Magazine
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