Today marks the 35th anniversary of the start of USA Today. I remember at the time of the launch there was no national newspaper in the United States, USA Today founder Al Neuharth was criticized for turning his paper into McNews (takeoff of McNuggets) because of the small size of stories, and no journalist wanted to work there – Gannett had to rotate reporters and editors from its newspapers to run the thing.
What difference a few decades make! USA Today is the second largest circulation newspaper (the Wall Street Journal outran them about a decade ago), it is virtually the newspaper of record for the millions of people who travel as it shoved under virtually every hotel room door, and they have attracted some outstanding journalists to its roster.
Long before social media was even a spark in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye, or maybe even more accurately Mark Zuckerberg was a spark in his mother’s eye, USA Today understood the changing news reading demographic of consumers wanting to be able to get a daily report they could digest in 15 or 20 minutes. The major headlines, written in tight prose, business news that every consumer could understand and a great national sports section, were some of the things that mark USA Today’s success.
While I remain a fan of the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, USA Today is an important part of my morning read and suggest to all of you that if you want a succinct digest of the news each morning, it should become a part of your daily routine as well.