USA Today is a brand known by almost everyone. From people in the big cities to the ones in more rural areas, this brand has consolidated newspapers across the country.
Here’s the theory: the 160+ local newspapers produce local stories. When one of these is thought to be of wider interest, it is pushed up the chain of command until it reaches it’s peak distributor. Simple enough, right?
Well, yes in the sense that tying all these local journalist together allows a great variety of content as well as more uniformity in the structure. But it is also a problem if Gannett (the owning company of USA Today) fails as it would mean the end of most of these paper who rely on the brand and service proceeded by corporate.
While this strategy has served USA Today well in the past, as the entire industry downsizes, questions are being raised. Especially since Gannett’s stocks seem to be decreasing in value each year. To be fair, very few legacies have been able to rely on their foreword thinking and writing to survive so Gannett is not the only one in this situation .
Unfortunately, as explained by David Uberti in this article from the Columbia Review Journal, USA Today is not perceived to be at the same level of writing as fellow New York Times and Washington Post.
Even if their writers are trying to change this, modifying public’s perception of a brand is not easy.
So Gannett is not ever just yet. Their pyramid like structure of local journalist is allowing them to finance the operations while still giving some control to each of the individual local publications.
With the implementation of new strategies like social media reporting and a more targeted online advertising, the company is trying to move forward. While, in my opinion, this might be too little too late their effort is admirable considering that rural newspapers are disappearing due to the lack of revenue.
As Uberti says : “There are no easy answers as to what this possible future will hold for American democracy, or what the tradeoffs will be should Gannett’s digital moonshot succeed. There are no obvious villains and, for the moment, no coming saviors. For now, in many parts of the country, there is only Gannett.”