USA Today was mocked when it launched 25 years ago. McPaper, they called it, with its “news nuggets” and “charticles.” But it has survived and is now thriving. According to editor Ken Paulson, USA Today is selling more copies now than it was six months ago. Why?
During a forum at American University, Paulson said new subscribers are telling USA Today they wanted more national and international news than they were getting in their local newspapers. That seems to fit with the recent trend toward “hyperlocal” coverage by many newspapers around the country. USA Today founder Al Neuharth compared the dilemma newspapers faced 25 years ago with what they face today. “The television generation was getting bored to death with dull newspapers,” he said. His new national paper was designed to be “different, lively, colorful.” Now, he said, the challenge is the Internet generation. Too bad the AU forum included no one from that generation to push the discussion forward.