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Beginning today, Sunday, October 6, 2013, USA Today has begun to publish a new edition called USA Today Local Edition.  It’s published in a partnership with the local papers who belong to our parent company, Gannett Corp.  We are piloting this project in four cities for the next several months.  It involves USA Today publishing an edition within our local papers, in which we supply our coverage of national and foreign news, life, money and sports.  At the same time our local papers are significantly increasing coverage of their local markets.  We are thrilled they are hosting us as part of their report.  

Together we are presenting an unbeatable package of USA Today’s unique coverage of national and international news and each of our partner paper’s fantastic local reports, which has been increased at the same time.  

For USA Today it’s a unique way to grow our audience thru daily exposure to the millions of people who read our local papers every day and will now have access to our coverage as well.  

For the local papers, there is a significant boost in coverage of local news, entertainment and sports, and the full support of USA Today’s team to bring the right mix of national and international content for their local readership.  As of tomorrow we will have launched the pilot program in four of our local papers:  The Indianapolis Star, The Appleton (WI) Post-Crescent, the Fort Myers (FL)  News Press and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Here are four different pages from our first day in the Indianapolis Star:

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I really loved it when Rupert Murdoch launched The Daily two years ago. I thought he picked some great executives like Jesse Angelo and Greg Clayman to build and run it, and I thought they did a great job as a news organization. But they made a single huge mistake.

They built a news operation for a platform, not for a readership.

The Daily on the day they announced they would be folding

The Daily on the day they announced they would be folding

While no one can deny that the IPad almost immediately impressed everyone as a news consumption device, there was absolutely no reason to believe that it would become the only way people would want their news. While every media business was trying to figure out how to best use the tablet as another distribution device, no one was seriously considering moving to a tablet-only service.

That’s because it was clear that this device going to be an answer, not THE answer. We are still early in this latest reinvention of storytelling. The digital platforms will clearly change habits both because they have eliminated much of the time it takes to deliver news and they provide a medium that allows the storyteller to employ virtually every format, from words to pictures, to video, to interactivity.

The news industry is learning that newsrooms of the future will no longer be built around the medium they are in (newspapers, tv, radio) but rather around the subject they are covering (New York, Financial News, Sports, Politics). These newsrooms will need the revenue from multiple channels to support themselves, and will therefore need to leverage the value of their knowledge across distribution systems.

The Daily waited much too long into it’s brief life to build distribution outside of the Tablet. The lesson for future entrepreneurs is not that the Tablet can’t supports a news business, it’s that it can’t solely support a news business and shouldn’t have to.

Even readers who loved getting their news on the tablet were not likely to have it with them at all times, or likely to prefer it at all times. And even though The Daily’s presentation on the Tablet got better and better as time went by, and was never less than impressive and even beautiful, there were just times that their readers would rather learn of breaking story on their phone because it was more convenient, or see a news video on a computer or TV screen when they were in front of one, or perhaps even read a story in a newspaper if they were sitting on a beach or hear it in a car while driving on the way home.

Serving an audience in today’s information age means you have to accept that the audience will want timely information on the best possible platform at any given time and place. The same consumer driving a car home or sitting in front of their computer at work will probably prefer a different form of communication than someone sitting on a train with their IPad on a try in front of them.

So while The Daily was perhaps the most successful demonstration of how news could be delivered over a tablet, it was, by design, totally irrelevant on every other platform. Telling everyone they HAD to view them on a Tablet was no different than a newspaper or TV news operation refusing to put its content on the web.

Timing is Everything

Posted: October 26, 2012 in Content

20121026-014550.jpgThis is a page of the world series guide that was handed out during game 3, the day after Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs in a world series game. It seemed like a fun fact to include, especially since on three others had done it, including Babe Ruth, and it had been years since the last one. Go figure that the night before, the record is broken and the magazine is wrong.

We believe in print advertising. We also believe in digital advertising and we particularly love multi-platform advertising campaigns. But we believe print advertising is being particularly neglected right now because of all the attention being placed on digital and social platforms.

Win $1 million worth of advertising with a Creative idea for and execution of an ad campaign.

Agencies have forgotten how powerful print ads can be, and how impossible they are to replicate on digital platforms. Discovery is still a very big advantage of print advertising and one that we fear is being lost in the digital stampede. There are, we believe, moments when print advertising may be the best alternative to sell a product or build a brand.

And we want to help prove it! So today we are offering $1 million worth of full color print advertising in USA Today to an ad agency or client who steps up with the most engaging and creative use of print to sell their product, service or brand.

Think of it. Beautiful, full color, full-page ads running in the nation’s newspaper. A million dollars worth of them to the most creative advertising storyteller we can find.

So pick up a copy of USA Today and check out the full-page ad on the competition today, or read our brand new Media columnist Michael Wolff’s column about what advertising has to do to regain its footing. Or, click on the photo with this post and get more details. Then, get out your crayons and get to it!

Today we launched the new USAToday.com.
Thank’s to the magnificent and tireless work of an army of engineers, designers, programmers, product managers, editors, etc., under the direction of Gannett Digital president David Payne, we are taking a huge step into the future, not without risk, by creating what we believe is a major step for our viewers and advertisers.
The new USAToday.com is a dramatic change for both.

For our readers and viewers it represents a significant step toward visual storytelling, but one that respects the fact that no two readers are alike, especially during times of significant technological change. We give you several options on how to view news, information, entertainment and advertising but all involve significant curation by our editorial staff, the heart and soul of the value we bring to this storytelling process. This creation is truly a collaborative work between dedicated technologists and equally dedicated journalists.

We give the reader the ability to use visuals or words in varying degrees in their consumption process. And we will do it in varying degrees. If the reader wants, for example, he or she can view each story by starting with a photograph or a video. They can even use a device we call “Cover Mode” (see the little book-like design at the top of the page) that allows them to see each story via a full-page photograph, the most dramatic use of still photography in the storytelling process we have ever seen on the Internet.

We give you the ability to view by our definition of importance or by anyone’s definition of timeliness. By merely scrolling over a visual reference to a story they can also see more text to put that story in context. And by viewing our “Right Now” column along the right side of the page, you will see relevant social media reactions to the ongoing story in real-time.
Our horizontal navigation, inspired by the growing and already massive use of tablets, allows the reader to “peruse” the sections or the stories on the site by turning pages, re-imagining the “discovery” process we so love in the print media. It allows you to be surprised by content you didn’t know existed, but to do so at your own speed, depending upon your time and inclination.

Cover View: A new way to peruse stories through their most dramatic images

The horizontal “page-turning” experience also allows our advertisers to reclaim the full-page ad they so dearly want and need. We allow those advertisers the chance to use the entire palate in whatever way they want to grab your attention, all the time giving you the same ability you had in print to turn the page. But watch out, you are going to see some wonderful ads that use dramatic visual tools from interactivity to video to draw you in.

Advertising in general has also changed in a big way on this site. Gone are the many small units that appears in different places on the page, frequently below the “fold” or unavailable until you scrolled down. We listened to our readers and our advertisers, and we have reacted by giving both a better experience. We have limited the advertisers to fewer but much more dramatic positions, giving them the same chance we are giving ourselves of telling their stories better and reaching more people with increasingly dramatic tools.

This is truly a major step into the new world of digital storytelling, one that empowers them, as storytellers with their own story to tell, to use every tool available: video, audio, text, photography, interactivity and more to tell his or her story. This is a step in the reinvention of storytelling, it’s also a step in the reinvention of how news will be created and consumed. We’re extremely excited to be part of that process.

Much more to come. Watch over the next few weeks as we roll out our new tablet and mobile apps, and if you haven’t recently, take a look at our print newspaper, too. It has also begun to embrace the strengths of a print product in today’s media mix and you will be surprised. And we are making it easier on all platforms for you to contact us. In the spirit of this new era of communications, please send us your comments, ideas and suggestion.

This is a little hard to explain, but I just have to try.  I am trying to buy a brand new Iphone5, and pay FULL price for it because my Verizon Wireless plan still has 6 months left on it.   But neither Apple nor Verizon will sell it to me.  

Despite the fact that they would be getting the highest price possible for the device, both online stores AND customer service personnel for both companies were unable to take my money for a new phone.Image

In the case of Apple, because I had a plan that didn’t qualify for an Upgrade, their system kicked me back because selling me a phone without a plan was the same as selling an “unlocked” phone that could be used on several systems and their contracts with their partners don’t let them sell unlocked phones.

In the case of Verizon, their system just simply would not let me enter an order because I was not qualified for a subsidized upgrade.  Believe it or not, if you are NOT going to take a discount, their system would not let you buy the phone at top dollar.  The site first checks for you discount when you put in your phone number, and when you don’t get a discount it just says “Cannot Upgrade,” and adds the words “No change” when you try to click through for an order anyway.

In fact, the only opportunity I had to buy the phone from either Verizon or Apple, was if I was willing to take a new phone number and open a new account.  But after about 20 years I just didn’t feel like changing my phone number.

Maybe these guys are just saving me from myself.

 

Now, we know we have made it.  Stephen Colbert revealed our new logo treatment to the world, in a way only he could. Turns out USA Today is his favorite newspaper, and he’s not a fan of change.  But in the end, he embraces change…..er….sort of, by using the logo itself to tell the story of how hard the USA Today  graphics department will be working to execute our “living” logo each day.

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