Sunday, October 06, 2013

USAT | Tonight's lame cruise story already ran

USA Today's now-daily dedication to keeping a cruise industry-friendly story in a prominent position on its homepage reached new depths of absurdity this evening when it reposted a story it already published yesterday on the same page.

"Sail to sale: best cruises for shoppers" is actually a slideshow of handout photos, most provided by industry players including tourism boards and cruise lines. For example, high-end Crystal Cruises gave USAT an especially mediocre photo of an empty jewelry shop aboard its Crystal Symphony ship.

The caption reads as though it was taken verbatim from a press release: "It takes time and thought before deciding to buy a diamond or other gem. Crystal Symphony’s Crystal Facets may be a practical way to shop for people always on the go."

At the moment, the slideshow is No. 5 on USAT's list of top news stories. Yesterday, the exact same slideshow held the No. 9 slot. So, over the past 24 hours, an item with zero news value has now moved up to fifth most-important story at Gannett's leading daily newspaper.

(Unfortunately, I'm not making this up. I've been tracking this shamelessness in a spreadsheet.)

Tonight's competition for top news billing is incredibly weak -- at least, in the eyes of whoever's picking stories from across the globe. One of the few serious pieces in the top news list is No. 3: House Speaker John Boehner once more insists he doesn't want the U.S. to default on its debt.

Norwegian Cruise Line is still the sole advertiser with these homepage stories. That a competitor appears in the current story suggests USAT hasn't completely jumped in bed with an advertiser -- but just barely.

1 comment:

  1. That this story would be repeated 24 hours later suggests some editors aren't reading the paper's website, or they haven't been keeping a list of the cruise customer bait that they've already run.


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