Sunday, April 17, 2011

Audit | USA Weekend magazine vs. Parade

[Today's issues: USAW's 20 pages vs. Parade's 28 pages]

Gannett's weekend newspaper supplement, USA Weekend, was folded into USA Today's Life Department editorial operations last year, after CEO Marcia Bullard's departure from the company.

In an earlier challenge, chief rival Parade had hired as publisher former USAT advertising chief Brett Wilson; that was in October 2009. Since then, Wilson has been promoted to group publisher over all Parade Publications operations. (Parade is owned by magazine giant Conde Nast.)

How the two magazines compare:

  • Circulation: 22.6 million
  • Newspapers: more than 700
  • Circulation: 32.2 million
  • Newspapers: more than 510


  1. I'd love to see some hard advertising revenue figures for these two publications.

  2. Very little creativity or hard work goes on at Weekend. Grabrielson is a dud.

  3. Weekend needs a total overhaul, editorially.

  4. Good for Brett. He was a decent guy, and much better respected by the staff than Lee Jones. No surprise that he got the hell out of Dodge shortly after Hunke arrived.

  5. 6:33, let me guess: Weekend needs more 'hard news' and investigative reporting, right? Out with the fluff and put some news 'meat on them bones,' right?

    If that's what you're saying, then you have no clue as to what works and what doesn't in a Sunday newspaper insert mag. Then you're just another among an endless parade of journalists who want to impart their own editorial preferences/superiority upon the lowly masses.

    But, unfortunately for you, the lowly masses vastly prefer the fluff, as long as its entertaining fluff. And entertaining, lively fluff is what once made Weekend an obscenely successful product purely from a business perspective. (Again, yes, we all know that 95 percent of the blog readers think the product always was editorially garbage. But the magazine made money. Lots of it. And that fluff sold ads.)

    Interesting to see the choice of side-by-side covers this week from Jim, because it's unusually tilted to Weekend's favor: Getting the two Marvel comics movie actors together for what looks like an engaging, fun cover is a good 'get.' It's much more likely to grab readers than the bland Parade cover. (Although Parade's production values always higher of course.)

    But nine weeks out of ten these days, Parade has the clear advantage.

    Which goes back to the incredibly bad business decision to merge Weekend with USAT, a strategy proven to be a failure by the pure numbers. The total book page number difference highlighted by Jim is only part of the story. A telling part of the story, but just part of it.

    In the end, this is the story about taking the company's most profitable product by far and driving it to the point of what could very well be its extinction, solely out of corporate arrogance and short-sightedness, saving dimes only to lose dollars in the end. Congrats, Big Thinkers out there in GCI land.

  6. USA WEEKEND is in more than 800 newspapers.

  7. 11:55 If true, someone needs to update the magazine's website.

  8. USAW Edit merged with USAT Life before Marcia left. The merger happened Dec 2009/Jan 2010, and Marcia announced her "retirement" soon after, leaving at the end of March.

    They're all dinosaurs. A dying product inserted in more dying products. But Parade is seen as more serious (not a guilty pleasure) and tests well, and the new art direction with a Life Magazine sensibility lends more gravitas.

    There's barely anyone left in USAW edit. Most work hard, a few hardly work. But the ones who do work hard are doing their best to keep it all afloat so that Gannett can wring a few last dollars out of it.

  9. I grew up reading Parade for 40+ years. When my newspaper switched to Weekend, I gave up.

  10. To say the editorial product suffered after weekend merged with the paper is laughable. Most slack has been taken up by Life staffers. Say what you will, but they are several cuts above the caliber of Weekend staffers.

  11. Brett Wilson was loved here at USAT and his leaving was a major hit. The guy had leadership qualities, was extremely personable, and actually liked to make sales calls. He clearly saw something he didn't like and around here and got the hell out before it was too late. He must be laughing now.

  12. Don't worry about USAW print going down. We can always read it on the web.


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