Monday, February 06, 2012

USAT | New mathematics: How 1 + 1 = 37

[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.

For the uninitiated, mastheads are lists of senior executives from across a paper, starting with the publisher and generally including heads of major departments. Publishing the names for all to see demonstrates a paper's accountability to readers, and transparency in its operations. Mastheads traditionally appear on the editorial page.

They might also be called ego boxes, because getting included is a status symbol -- especially at USAT, where Publisher Dave Hunke has hired or promoted some two dozen newly titled executives since a reorganization in August 2010.

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 And it was seriously out of date.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 (To be sure, the online list of top USAT executives remains hopelessly out of date.)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?


  1. Yawn. Slow news day?

  2. In other USA Today sightings from this morning's edition:

    * the paper once more wrapped the front page in a four-page advertising section -- this one for Dodge, thereby obscuring the Super Bowl results front page at the news stand. (Except in San Francisco, where in at least two vending machines, the wrap was tucked inside the paper.)

    * Reporter Maria Puente did a good job on the front page Cover Story about Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, despite apparently limited travel buget resources.

    It appears she wasn't sent to the U.K. to report the story, given the fact it doesn't have a dateline. Other than quoting professional court biographers, I didn't see any commoners-on-the-street interviews.

    Is there no travel budget left, even for Page One's most valuable real estate?

  3. Jim, I got a laugh out of the Kremlinology reference. It's on-target. I've never heard of a 37-name masthead, even on the Times or Post or Journal. Stunning. And just think, there may be more VPs and SVPs to add to the lineup the way things are going.

  4. You will find USA Today cover wraps unstuffed in many locations, wholesalers cannot continue to lose profit when customers can't see the front page.

  5. It's a clear indicator to prospective advertisers that their rates are too high in relation to other media.

    Look at any other national media buy - Cosmo, NBC, Google, ClearChannel, anyone - do any of them list 37 VPs?

    Look through USAT proper - are there 37 bylines, electronic or print? Shoot, are there 37 stories, bylined or not?

    I haven't been a buyer in many years, but when I see that kind of overhead I know that I can cut whatever price I'm offered in half, and get it.

    There is NO good reason to list this in the paper. Absolutely none. Publisher and executive editor? Yes. VP-Twinkie Freshness Tester? No. Put that on the website if you must.

    How unbelievably tone-deaf can the leadership be. Give the veeps gold-embossed business cards and let them ego-stroke each other.

  6. Jim, can you list the the people in the mastheads(s)? I never see the paper anymore.

    Do all 37 people now attend Hunke's management committee meetings?

  7. 8:43, here you go.

    From the box above the editorials, names and titles:

    Al Neuharth, founder
    Dave Hunke, publisher
    Susie Ellwood, EVP and general manager
    Susan Weiss, executive editor
    Chet Czarniak, executive editor/distribution
    Brian Gallagher, editor of editorial page

    From the box below the letters:

    Myron Maslowsky, SVP for finance/admin
    Mindy Fetterman, VP for content strategy
    Mitch Gelman, VP for digital product
    Susan Motiff, VP for strategic planning

    David Colton, Content
    Lee Horwich, Content
    Patty Michalski, Mobile
    Robert Robinson, Production
    David Teeuwen, Digital
    Owen Ullmann, Print

    Lee Jones, SVP
    Maureen Consavage, VP New York
    Dan Thomas, VP, Strategic Accounts

    Sandra Micek, SVP
    Bill Cronin, VP
    Laura Del Greco, VP Client Solutions

    Evan Ray, President
    Brad Jones, SVP Distribution
    Austin Ryan, SVP Operations

    Tom Beusse, President
    Mark Kortekaas, SVP Digital
    Peter Lazarus, SVP Sales
    Jonathan Marshal, SVP Strategy and Business Affairs
    Dave Morgan, SVP Content
    Ross Schaufelberger, SVP Operations
    Merrill Squires, SVP League & Properties

    Vic Borton, SVP & GM
    Laura Hendricks, VP Advertising sales
    Jill Heymer, VP Product Sales
    Rick Schiffmann, VP Business Development
    Veronica Stoddart, Content Lead

  8. Maybe, USAT is becoming a magazine, remember they list everyone including the clerks.

  9. Heywood Jablowme, VP Audience Engagement - there's a guy who needs a job.

  10. That's disgusting. Most of our newspaper don't have a staff that big.

  11. Just embarrassing. Not other words for it.

  12. Jim, that photo gave me a good laugh. Thanks. Tough stretch now for many of your readers.

  13. That's sure a lot of wasted space. And thrifty G A N N E T T wasting newsprint like that!

  14. Hunke is aiming for 50.

  15. Mike Hunt was just namd vice president of internal affairs.

  16. What an ego trip these folks are on. The space taken up by those names is about equal to the ad space sold daily.

    Great job, Mr. Hunke. Let's all have a drink.

  17. Watch out Micek. Banikarim will soon realize the prized marketing job is not the one she has but the one you have.

    Move over. I'm sure she is furious her name is not on the only brand at Gannett: USAToday.

  18. Let's see Micek handle the job she has now before we elevate her to an even more meaningless position. USAT marketing is still a mess.

  19. Same thing going on at The Tennesseans as USAT,

    People getting Promotions for no apparent reasons. I know of One man Promoted to Supervisor in The Tech Service Department and has NO one under him.
    Yet this is the same Guy when given a work order told his Boss Nope wont do that, I have issues with that person, YOU go do it and his boss did.
    Good Ole Boy network at play.

  20. I hear that Mike Literis the new VP, Employee Activation.

  21. Edtitor's Note: For more Letters to the Editor, go to our website.

  22. As more are added, others are dropped. What happened to John Palmisano, VP of Information Technology?

  23. 37 executives on the masthead...$500,000 in compensation between base and bonuses. That means, on a cash basis, this executive losers cost USAT over $18,000,000 in expenses.m that is a SIGNIFICANT PERCENT OF REVENUE.

    GRACIA, what are you doing about this ? Seems like you are shitting the pan again!

  24. Jack Offer has been named general manager of Verticals.

  25. Where is IT, and Circulation in the masthead?


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