Friday, September 14, 2012

USAT | And here's the first redesigned Page One

Compare this to the old look, seen in yesterday's front page, below.

Earlier: Here's a photo of USAT's likely new logo.

[Source: Newseum; see all of Gannett's front pages]


  1. Almost 7:00 EST and the new still hasn't launched yet. What's up with that?

  2. It's not scheduled to launch until tomorrow.

  3. The blue blob bandaids can't mask the continuing irrelevancy.

  4. Over the next few weeks, you'll read this again and again about thumbs-down criticism of the redesign: Few people liked USAT when it first launched 30 years ago, either.

    The jury is still way, way, way, way, way out on this latest version -- especially because the new digital editions haven't appeared yet.

    That said, the ultimate test will be whether story CONTENT improves. Otherwise, this will just be a superficial makeover.

  5. You've got to wonder how much time/money was wasted on the freaking lame ass logo?

  6. The middle east is exploding and not even a head line ! Really good coverage.
    Instead,Obama Leads Romney !
    That's about to changes after this latest of many,disasters.
    Economy collapsing,muslim world is declaring war on America,Iran out of control,fed prints more fake money.
    And the USA main headline.....
    Obamas Lead Poses Test for Romney.
    Good Grief!No re-design helps this crap!

  7. I'm sorry, but the website launching after the paper redesign and two days after the big social media and PR push shows that USAT still doesn't get that news breaks online first, not in print. The site should have been up first, then the paper relaunch after that.

  8. Will we be the first martians? Meanwhile, an American ambassador's dead body was paraded through the streets of the middle east. Really? This is supposed to be a newspaper?

  9. A big blue ball?
    That's it?
    How uninspired.

    Then again, maybe it's a Freudian reference to all the older women running things (into the ground) at the CP?

    Did the same brain-dead poseurs who came up with New Coke do this?

  10. I really can't believe this is the result of all the months of work. I have seen high school papers with better design. Big blue blob. Terrible, just terrible. Did they put the guy who invented New Coke in charge?

  11. Top 5 alternate choices for a USAT logo
    1. Blue trapezoid
    2. Green triangle
    3. Red Rhombus
    4. Brown Dodecahedron
    5. Squiggly line
    Love to see the bill for this one.

  12. This shows you what happens when a company systematically eliminates most of it's designers and design directors across the board. This is a pathetic excuse for a logo design I've seen since the "it's all within reach" look came out.

  13. Funny, but I thought Gannett got rid of the big blue ball at Tysons…who knew it thought so much of it that they want to share it with the world.

    Though, setting the date the same size as USAT’s flag (which is nuts) doe makes it easier for single copy buyers to avoid purchasing day old news. Good for them, not GCI sales revenues.

  14. I was at Starbucks today and watched a man look for a complete USA TODAY thinking what he saw must have been missing the front page.

  15. I'm a recent ex-long time USA TODAYer, and I made sure to check out the paper (the paper, people) this am. Here's my take: overall, a new logo, and a different font, and some shuffling of the furniture. The new logo on 1A is odd, feels like a waste of space. If the ball had a US map outline or something...
    The logo feels better on inside sections where they can be dressed up. Not sure what the cowboy hat means on Sports, or the leaf (autumn?) on Life, but I get where they'e going.
    States - whippee! color! pictures! Let's see if ads start appearing there.
    Weather - having a hard time seeing what's very different.
    Money - USA Markets instead of stocks. Sure...looks good, but only revolutionary if you had done it a few years ago. Not sure finance readers will be moved.
    Sports - new font and reformatting seems to work best here. Really like the NBC ad unit on 9C with what appears to be guaranteed preview game content within. The Boxing page on 11C presented by Showtime looks good. (though the Chavez -Martinez guys on 6C may be chagrined). Can't say any more ads in here than would have been in an old-format 9/14 paper.
    Life - 6D looks like a concerted effort to sell the studios, never have seen so many studio ads in one day, even fractional ads. Looks good, but good chance they got a deal to be in this edition. We'll see on subsequent Fridays.
    Special NASCAR section - those have been happening for a long time, this wasn't tied to anniversary, just the date. 2.33 pages of ads vs 8 page section can't be a sustainable model. But hey, it's sure to be lauded a wild success by the new Sports guys.
    Special 30 year section - would have been nice to see long-time ad partners congratulate USAT (yes, USAT), so that's a disappointment. I imagine Ford and Sprint were given discounts to run in there; neither had a special message. Do like the 30 years forward theme.
    Overall, it's colorful, easy to read and accessible. Hmm, that sounds familiar, so...
    Am waiting for the web launch, which should be the real innovation. We'll see. Do agree that as a 'digital-first' company these days, the site should have launched 1st. But I suppose making the paper relaunch on a Friday makes more circulation sense than on a Monday. Overall, do I like the new redesign? Sure, but feels like I did when I first saw the paper many years ago. I'd call it a re-fresh rather than re-design.

  16. Hmm, blue ball logo possible copyright infringement of Art Center College of Design (my alma mater) orange ball logo?

  17. WTF is this shit:

    As I mentioned yesterday at the USA TODAY employee presentation, with Sam's permission, I'd like to share his full note regarding our new logo and getting our mojo back….


    Cool Balls by Sam Ward

    I have a dream . . . that one day all Americans will join hands and declare their undying love for our balls; our spheres of influence, our behaviors, or whatever one chooses to call them.

    Actually, and perhaps with an air of creepiness, I DID have a dream about this very topic. I dreamt that people all over the place were talking about the images in USA TODAY’s balls. It was creating quite a stir; which, if we do our job right, shouldn’t be far from the truth.

    Whenever anyone steps outside the boundaries of the box it will create a stir. In fact, nothing good can be created without stepping outside the box. No, let me rephrase that; nothing can be created at all without stepping outside the box. Our balls could be our boldest statement; our chance to engage readers on a level that we currently are not doing.

    We shouldn’t use that space for your everyday run of the mill promo; that’s currently being done by every newspaper in the country. Nobody would feel drawn to a photo of Neil Armstrong that could have been used on the day after his death. People would however have been attracted to a simple moon boot print, or a flag at half-mast planted on an image of the moon. I guess maybe “sophisticated” is the word that fits.

  18. Continued:

    And I believe readers want to consider themselves sophisticated. They want to be challenged. They don’t always want everything spelled out for them. How can they feel challenged if we never offer them a challenge? If some days, readers can’t understand the symbolic imagery within our balls, they will feel a deeper level of appreciation on the days when they can. Readers form a bond with publications that trust them to “get it.”

    And just what are we asking our readers to “get?” Just what are our balls? Well, they are what we will make of them. I believe our balls are symbols of who we are and where we’re headed. They are not stories, graphics, or illustrations. They are signposts, perhaps; reminders that offer inroads into America’s stream of consciousness.

    And we have to be sensible about them too. We can’t beat our readers over the head with our cleverness. We should use our balls at the right time and for the right reasons. They should be important, and never feel too planned or overly scripted. We should think of them as we think about sex: sex is great but we don’t want to have it ALL the time. Well . . . maybe that’s the wrong analogy, but you get the point.

    It’s quite clear that the old way of doing things isn’t working. The time has come to step into the light and dare to be different. Sure, our competitors will laugh. Let them laugh so hard that they cannot breathe. We should really only be interested in what the readers think. Yes, there may be a few laughing readers too, but not for long. Readers will come to enjoy “the show.”

    And hopefully we will get folks talking. Great! We should want them to talk. If nobody talks it’s a sure sign we’re not doing anything very innovative. Maybe our balls will have a viral life. Maybe we will create a wave that readers want to catch. Our images can be our “preview,” our “trailer,” our trademark.

    There is an aspect of this that defies explanation. I cannot prove that it exists, but I “feel” that it does. Let’s call it a sense of “coolness,” for lack of a better term. I don’t have any statistics on this, but I believe most people consider themselves to be cool; and they would like to feel they are reading a publication that is cool. They may not totally understand why, but they still want to be a part of it.

    Readers will appreciate the risk we are taking; that we dare to be different. USA TODAY could take the safe approach, wading cautiously and nervously into the ever-changing media environment, but that isn’t what inspires people. Americans, in particular, like a big splash. Believing in oneself and taking that dive into the unknown stormy sea . . . now THAT inspires people.

    It’s been too long since USA TODAY has taken a chance. We have allowed ourselves to become too comfortable in our niche. We seem to have lost our way, lost our mojo, if you will. But I’ve been getting some good vibes lately. This redesign is working. We are attempting to radically change the way we present the news and the way we go about our jobs.

    Yes, I believe things are moving fast now and that our mojo is back . . . and we have the balls to prove it . . .

  19. "Balls"? This is humiliating.

  20. Good Lord. Is this real? "I have a dream . . . that one day all Americans will join hands and declare their undying love for our balls"

    I thought Claude, Taco and the other watchdog journalism mascots in Phoenix were bad. People loving our balls takes bad to new highs.

    Unless they were high when they dreamt this up. In which case it makes perfect sense.

  21. Newsroom mascots- anyone at the Daily Record remember Morris the Owl.?

  22. What a great day. I love the new look. There is a great energy in the CP today.

  23. 1:10--good thing there is great energy somewhere today, because those of us in the field think it's a big joke. The blue balls email has hit Facebook and is the joke of the day.

  24. Wow!

    Blue Ball aside, what a poorly designed front page in general. The reverse-backed Martian headline, the "skinny" in between the two Obama lead story columns...

    All this shows a poor design and execution (not that design REALLY matters that much to readers, it is content that counts, which means, of course, Gannett loses again).

    And is that a big enough AT&T ad in the bottom right or what? Dang, how much did they pay for THAT?

  25. Shockingly bad redesign; bland, flat, unimaginative.

  26. heh 3:43 what a surprise that you and your pals don't like it. I wouldn't have guessed it. I guess the morning shows that critqued it were wrong. I guess the NYT was wrong. I guess the many other critiques were wrong. Yep you are the authority. I love it!!!!!!!! Sports was the best! A ball with a Cowboy hat. I bet you really hated that.

  27. I had a chance to go through the whole print edition today -- balls and all. The balls are colored the same as the old section fronts were colored, and inside the balls got some treatment -- unlike the blue one on the cover. It looks like they're going to use it kind of like Google plays with its logo from time to time. But USAT missed the boat by not giving the cover ball some kind of treatment on the first day, leading everyone to think that this is their new, pathetic logo. And it is pathetic when it's just a blue ball. Look at the inside section fronts to get the idea -- they do look better.

    But it's going to be content that matters. No redesign has really saved any print newspaper in recent years, has it? Readers don't care that much that the new headline font they chose looks really dated. They may have noticed, however, that there was actually some content in today's edition -- a whopping 68 pages! Let's see if they can keep that up, then readers might take notice.

    With all that said, I don't think any redesign is going to save the print product. Print is still on its way down. They only dropped 10 copies at my office today -- where 3,000 people work, and two were still there at the end of the day. Most people on their downtime are looking at their smartphones or reading a book where I work, not looking at a newspaper. I kinda felt silly reading a newspaper among all my colleagues who were browsing their smartphones. Print is dead. One last thing. Larry Kramer's front-page note to readers mentioned the "bold redesign." That's so cliche. Can anybody redesign a newspaper without calling it bold?

  28. Periods SHOULD NOT be used as date delimiters.

    I wonder if any word people were consulted on that. I know designers love it, but periods have a specific use, and that use is not in writing dates.


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