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USA Today launches redesign

September 14, 2012|By Dawn C. Chmielewski
  • USA Today has a new look.
USA Today has a new look. (USA Today )

The newspaper that introduced the world to the infographic is getting a makeover.

Thirty years after the launch of the new national newspaper, USA Today unveiled a new logo, a more colorful look and bulked-up coverage of technology and travel. It also unveiled a digital redesign that gives the news operation a consistent look on its relaunched website and on mobile devices.

“We're trying to reinvent news here,” said Larry Kramer, who took over in May as president and publisher of USA Today. “What we're really trying to do is everything at once.”

Newspaper analysts say the publication is looking for dramatic ways to lure back readers with a flashier look, more emphasis on visual storytelling and a doubling-down on features that readers say they enjoy most, such as its state-by-state news roundup, weather pages and fantasy sports.

It once held a niche as a national newspaper for travelers, delivering weather, sports and distilled national news report to hotel rooms around the country. Now, much of that content can be had via a mobile app.

“USA Today's brand sort of faded in terms of uniqueness,” said Edward J. Atorino, a media analyst with Benchmark Co. “It's been struggling.”

The redesign is one element of an overall initiative to revitalize the publication.

Kramer plans to draw original reporting and video from the 5,000 journalists working at the Gannett Company’s newspapers and television stations across the country to provide more immediate and comprehensive coverage on the news organization’s website, as well as on tablets, a new Facebook app and mobile applications.

“We were getting better at doing alerts when big stories would break — but our effort was all directed to putting out a great newspaper for the next day,” Kramer said. “We needed to be that good on every platform.”

A new logo — a solid ball that replaces the USA Today's blue globe -- serves as an infographic, that changes to showcase the major news stories in each section. The main news section contains a column devoted to developing stories USA Today plans to follow throughout the day on digital platforms. Its sports section will boast a fantasy football page that provides a brief injury report, highlights the big performers (and under-performers) of the week and showcases the matchups ahead. On the editorial page, it will excerpt reader comments from Facebook and Twitter.

“In a rush to do something to reverse the USA Today's flagging fortunes, Gannett and/or new publisher Larry Kramer decided to take one big public step,” wrote Ken Doctor, a longtime news industry analyst. “Change the look first — then get to the deeper, underlying questions of identity, purpose, storytelling and content — all of which are core issues with the aging product.”


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