USA Today's strategy to fight back against threats from the Internet includes expanding its coverage of advertising-friendly topics and designing content specifically for smartphones and tablets, reported the Associated Press. The US paper with the largest print circulation has been losing advertising pages and cutting jobs.
Advertising-friendly content in practice means lots of travel tips, gadget reviews, sports features, financial advice and lifestyle recommendations, the AP explained. USA Today publisher Dave Hunke has been advised by the paper's VP of business development, 30-year-old Rudd Davis, who convinced him that the newsroom should emphasize topics that specifically attract digital readers, the AP added.
In November, USA Today launched a new website called Your Life, in a first attempt to fill this content need. The paper will launch further websites devoted to personal finance, personal technology and diversions, the AP specified.
Hunke believes that its formula for presenting content - compact stories surrounded by charts, illustrations and photos - is well suited for iPad and other tablet screens. The paper is available on a wide range of devices, and USA Today was one of the first papers to launch a version of its Android app specifically for the Motorola Xoom tablet, which launched in late February, running Android's first tablet-optimised OS, called Honeycomb.
In an attempt to to expand its mobile and tablet products and to fully take advantage of what these new platforms have to offer, USA Today disassembled its universal news desk in October, reorganizing staff around 15 distinct content areas and creating editing hubs by platform.
The paper has also set up a specific social media team to pursue social media initiatives in the newsroom, aiming to up both user engagement and advertiser fulfillment.
To balance the advertising-centered coverage, USA Today is also planning to produce more hard-hitting investigative reporting from its expanded unit of nine reporters and editors. As a comparison, however, a breakdown of USA Today's editorial staff was released in November, showing 27 people focused on entertainment.
Will the paper's digital strategy bear fruit in the form of extra readers and advertisers? Is such a focus on directing content attracting advertisers ethically acceptable; is it justified by the fact that this advertising can fund hard-hitting investigative journalism?
Source: Associated Press