Thirty years ago, USA Today revolutionized newspapers with color, infographics and concise stories; whether competitors liked it or not, publisher Gannett was beyond cutting edge for launching it. It’s now up to Larry Kramer, just appointed publisher and president, to lead a new revolution: forging a coherent, forward-looking digital strategy while updating and revitalizing a dated print edition that still has the largest U.S. circulation (1.7 million daily) and reach. It’s not like USA Today has been standing still digitally but it lags the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and smaller papers in paid digital editions.
I caught up with Larry (no relation) after he moderated a session on The New Publishers at paidContent 2012. We talked about his plans for USA Today, which like other Gannett properties has been battered by layoffs and furloughs.
Will he keep cutting costs? How will his background as an early digital entrepreneur and founder of MarketWatch factor in? What will it take to make USA Today different and relevant as it heads towards its 30th anniversary this September? Where does the international edition come in? One week into the job, he wasn’t deep on details but here’s a good taste of his thinking as he starts this reclamation project.