Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Twenty - and Lovin' It

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Twenty - and Lovin' It

Article excerpt

'USA Today,' the USA's favorite paper, blows out the candles, blows off the critics. The occasion? It's the Big 2-0!

What newspaper do we in the USA like? USA Today. Proof? Average circulation from Monday to Thursday: 2,120,357 copies. Hey, what about the other days? We pick up 2,575,423 copies over an average Fri./Sat./Sun. At newsstands, hotels, convention centers, airports. Many of us even pay for our copies: 1,619,691 do over a typical weekend.

Not even close: circulations of bicoastal Bigfoots -- The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post. Especially the Post. (Gloating is back: Given a chance, 71% of us would lord it over an envious naysayer like Ben Bradlee.)

Hey, why do we in the USA like USA Today so much? It's careful, credible, comfortable. Not trashy, tawdry, tabloidy. But still tells us all we want to know about J. Lo and Ben, Sarah Michelle and Freddie, Winona and security tags. We like the sports section, and we wonder why it's so underrated.

But mostly we like USA Today because:

Stories are short, fast.

Well, they used to be short, fast.

Now, they're just right: long for in-depth articles ("Color Orange County the new capital of cool"), short for simple stuff ("Court denies FCC appeal on line sharing"). Hey, they're still tinkering.

Former Gannett Co. Inc. Chairman Allen H. Neuharth launched USA Today Sept. 15, 1982. Wisenheimer journalists said it looked like a comic book. Tagged it McPaper. Their old professors back at j-school said, hey, a national newspaper would never fly in the USA, that Neuharth didn't know business like they did. …

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