Thursday, June 21, 2012

By the numbers | USAT's anniversary countdown

days until 30th anniversary 

USA Today is expected to launch some big changes by Sept. 15 under new Publisher Larry Kramer. For example, I'd be surprised if we didn't see a debut of the newly redesigned website.


  1. Where IS Kramer?

  2. staffers were shown prototypes of the new look website by Mitch Gelman a few weeks ago. There are some changes coming to the look of the print product as well.

    Cosmetics aside, the product will continue to lack sophistication and news judgement until key positions are filled or staffed correctly.

    We need actual news persons who can provide oversight of the website. Perfunctories and wannabees no longer cut it. Virtually none of these people have reporting, writing or editing experience.

  3. I've seen the prototypes for both the print and digital products. They are fantastic. Of course no one here will like any of it and all the decision makers will be jerks but I can't honestly say they've done a great job. The new Editor will answer 5:56's concerns. But no one will like her/him either because that is the way we roll here.

    1. "can't" say they've done a good job? How Freudian!

  4. I totally agree with 5:56 and will add that it is far more important to do a redesign of the current culture at USAT than to keep tinkering with the look of the website. The last few years have been a nightmare with some of the incompetents who have been put into leadership positions, the many losses we have suffered and the overwhelming aura of mistrust.

    In addition, we need people at the mid and lower levels who know what the heck they are doing, and we need more of them to support the folks who are doing their best to save USAT from embarrassing errors on a nightly basis. It would be nice if some additional staffing was provided in crunch time. When the heck did newspapering become a 9-5 job? And these pinheads talk about a 24/7 news cycle. Really? We had better staffing on deadline when there was no website!

    Do you non-USAT'ers realize that we have people here in Tysons who can barely write a complete sentence in English in our newsroom? I am not exaggerating. Regardless of rank or position, shouldn't everyone who works in editorial be able to construct a basic sentence or paragraph? No wonder there are so many errors in print and online. Too many holes in the editing process that didn't exist five or 10 years ago. We are hiring and retaining people based on personality rather than talent, ethics and experience. The damn popularity contest has to end. We need to get back to some sort of professionalism if we want to compete on a national stage. There are plenty of less competitive places people can go to learn their trade or to focus on fun and games.

    It's time that USAT get serious and either hire back some of the professionals who made the trains run on time or find new people who can rebuild the product and the spirit of this newsroom. I am all for moving forward with new technologies and ideas, but the gutting of this place in the name of progressiveness went too far. Way too far. A lot of people were unfairly hurt. That has to be repaired in conjunction with redesigns.

    The website has been redesigned countless times in recent years. It's obviously not bringing the results corporate wants. So why not try something new? Why not rebuild the integrity of the product by focusing on substance more than cosmetics. We need a lot of help, from copy editors to folks with a knack for maintaining quality control. People willing to work the tough shifts, knowing that that is part of the business. We need people who will meet deadlines and get the news posted online, accurately, and with a sense of urgency. The grown-ups need to be in charge, but they also need the help of bright, young people who have earned the right to work here with something other than a smile and an inflated resume. We need to hire and fire people for the right reasons.

    If USAT gets back to doing the right thing on all levels, there might be some hope for producing a paper that people will continue to buy and a website that they can trust. If, however, there is no acknowledgement of the massive number of personnel errors made in the last three years, and a serious attempt to correct those mistakes, I doubt any redesign will translate into dollars or respect for a once proud brand.

  5. 9:21, you are focusing on the LOOK of the product, not the quality of the content. that is what the competition focuses on. Unless Usa Today concentrates on that, what will lure advertisers and readers?

  6. everything people want and do is superficial these days so if that is what USA TODAY is doing they will appeal to the masses. No one looks below the surface. If they did Facebook would never gain traction.

  7. Show me the ad money before you show me yet another redesign.

  8. So its decided, then. Any redesign be accompanied by a shift in personnel to give the sight more journalstic heft. So it gets managers who know how to write and edit on deadline. It has staffers who know news, pop culture and history beyond the past five years. Most important, it will have staffers with news judgement who can think independently and dont need a preset plan prepared by some twentysomething manager when they come on shift.

    An actual operation run by smart, experienced journalists. What a concept.

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