[Studying the newest masthead is like analyzing a Soviet line-up]
Practicing their own version of Kremlinology, USA Today's top leaders have finally resolved a sensitive bit of corporate politics: Which names to include -- and, equally important, not to include -- in the newspaper's published masthead.
By last week, the masthead had grown to an unwieldy 25 names. And it was seriously out of date. Rudd Davis, for one, was still included as vice president for business development, more than two months after he'd been promoted to president of the Travel Media Group -- and, even more starkly, at least two weeks after he'd reportedly left the paper entirely.
Eureka: a solution!
Starting today, the paper began publishing two mastheads -- one at the top of the editorials, and another at the bottom of the letters columns.
In the new line-up, Davis is finally gone (still without any explanation, of course). And now all sorts of folks are listed who weren't there before, including members of the Sports Media Group; the marketing department, and the rest of the Travel Media Group. Plus, someone decided to include managers from another Gannett operating division entirely: Gannett Publishing Services. (To be sure, the online list of top USAT executives remains hopelessly out of date.)
In total, there are now 37 names in the two masthead boxes.
By my count, that second box takes up space that could instead accommodate two letters to the editor. Multiply that by approximately 250 issues per year, allowing for holidays, and we're talking about 500 letters that will never see the light of day.
Transparency is a good thing. But do we really need to know the names of the senior vice president over "league & properties" in sports; the vice president of "client solutions" in marketing, or the "content lead" in travel?