Saturday, August 06, 2011

USAT | Hunke to reveal second-half plans Thursday

[Hunke, Ellwood, Payne]

Publisher Dave Hunke sent the following memo to USA Today employees yesterday. I believe this event will mark the first company-wide appearance of Susie Ellwood, who was promoted to the paper's No. 2 executive post in June. She is likely Hunke's annointed successor.

Also at the meeting: David Paynenamed Gannett's new chief digital officer in March, will detail a planned redesign of USAT's website, one of the most heavily trafficked news sites in the country.

This event comes as the paper approaches the one-year mark since Hunke announced a reorganization Aug. 26 to shore up advertising revenue and circulation. To date, there has been little public evidence of of its progress.

The memo's text:

From: USA TODAY Publisher
Date: August 5, 2011 16:39:32 EDT
Subject: Publisher's Update -- Thursday, August 11

USA Today Publisher’s Update Thursday, August 11, 2011

Please join Dave Hunke for a USA Today Publisher’s Update on Thursday, August 11, 2011 in the Tysons Auditorium at 4:00 p.m. For those outside Tysons, webcast and call-in details will be posted on the USA Today Intranet homepage.

Susie Ellwood, SVP/GM and Sandra Micek, SVP/Marketing, will give an overview of goals for the second half of the year. David Payne, Chief Digital Officer, will share his plans for the re-launch and re-design of Tom Beusse, President/Sports Media Group, will layout the foundation and strategy for the Sports group. Rudd Davis, VP/Business Development, has up-to-date information on USA Today's travel industry plans. Q&A with staff will follow the presentations.

Earlier: Hunke adds senior executive No. 15 to his team.


  1. Well the haters.will hate whatever Payne says but for the rest of the audience please take a close look. He makes USAT content the Number one element in his plan and throughout the company and there is much more. Not sure how much time the ringmaster will give him. Hopefully enough to really share the details of the full plan.

  2. I'm looking forward to hearing more about their future plans, but I have a suggestion. Let's start with a recap of all they've accomplished over the last year since the "transformation" was announced. Oh, that's right. We probably don't want to go there.

  3. I wonder how Hunke will have anything to say, now that Cassidy is not there to spoon-feed him?

  4. Who's going to ask the hard questions? Anyone?

  5. Im looking forward to this guy's presentation. Let's hope his plan involves putting the right EDITORIAL people in positions where they can better guide content. That is a key problem with the website.

  6. Could we also hear from Heather Frank? Most of us cant fathom what she or her team are doing or what the Master Plan is. Maybe she doesnt know, either. But honestly, how much more of a fianancial drain can the verticals can the paper take before there are more layoffs?

  7. @2:00 What would you suggest they do differently on the website? Be specific.

  8. So clueless. Hunke to "reveal" ...

    This is just the usual quarterly meeting, and almost everything has been revealed already in various formas.

    Maybe not "revealed" to Jim, of course.

  9. The real revelations will come during the Q&A when Hunke isn't following a script. That's when we found out last year that "Oh, by the way, USA Today will be a smaller company by fall."

    That bombshell wasn't in the script. All that Hunke was planning to reveal was the upbeat "no more furloughs because we don't want to lose more good people." The irony of course was that his throwaway remark propelled many, many good people directly to the exits.

    Which makes me think that 1) Hunke is none too smart, 2) he's so full of himself that he doesn't take note of consequences, or 3) he doesn't care about anything but the size of his next bonus.

  10. 4:20 If Hunke has shared all this information previously, are you saying that all these highly paid managers are holding a meeting with no purpose at all?

  11. Anyone for buzzword bingo?

  12. Who is going to ask the hard question about having him explain firing Ed Cassidy? Nobody I bet.

  13. When is the update presentation set by USA Today president and publisher Maryam Banikarim?

  14. I'm looking forward to hearing from Beusse and Payne. I think we're in good shape with those guys. The rest of them have very little to say, so I have zero expectations. Micek, inparticular, has been completely unimpressive.


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