USA Today is "disassembling its universal desk and a five-year effort at newsroom integration," Poynter's Rick Edmonds reported following discussion with the paper's publisher Dave Hunke. This effort will be replaced with "editing hubs by platform."
Staff will be organised around 15 distinct content areas and each will have its own top editor and a dedicated general manager to develop advertising and revenue opportunities, Hunke told Edmonds. Several managing editor jobs have been eliminated.
The changes are intended to allow the paper to expand its mobile and tablet products and fully take advantage of what these new platforms have to offer. The idea will be that offerings are "designed and edited to match the unique characteristics and markets" in both categories rather than just moving material from print and the website.
Hunke told Edmonds that part of the reason for this change was the feeling that the paper's print edition should focus on an older, general news audience, but that as tablet buyers so far seem to skew ten to 15 years younger than the typical print reader, a different approach was needed. He clarified that he did expect the print newspaper to continue to provide the biggest share of revenues for some time.
Recent changes at USA Today included the separation of USA Today sports as a separate business unit, and the creation of an investigative unit with four reporters and an editor, who will work closely with the paper's five database editors.
Clearly, the increased availability of mobile platforms for accessing news means that news organisations need to think carefully about what they are offering in this area. The story-telling process on these devices is different to either print or web, and requires some investigation. It will be interesting to see how USA Today's newsroom restructuring efforts develop, and whether they do start to re-write the rules for newsroom integration.