USA Today undergoing major restructuring with 130 layoffs, news tailored to mobile

August 27th, 2010 by Chris Hogg Leave a reply »

In a press release issued late Thursday, USA Today announced it would be undertaking a major organizational restructuring effective today.

USA Today publisher Dave Hunke told the AP the publication would lay off 130 people, or about 9 percent of its total workforce of 1,500 employees. The changes represent the biggest organizational shift in USA Today‘s 28-year history, as the Gannett flagship moves away from print and toward mobile.

“This significant restructuring reflects USA Today‘s evolution from a newspaper company to a multi-platform media company,” Hunke said in the news release. “When USA Today first launched in 1982, we led the news and information industry in aligning our content with readers and advertisers. I’m confident these key executive appointments in new and current departments will continue our legacy as a vital, valuable media brand across print, digital and mobile platforms.”

USA Today‘s print edition is still the big bread-winner for the organization, but the changes represent a focus on emerging platforms such as smart phones and tablets. These tech-friendly platforms present a new way to sell subscriptions and advertising.

Furthermore, USA Today‘s advertising revenue has dropped by nearly 50 percent since 2006 (the publication sold 580 ad pages in the most recent quarter ending in June compared to 1,098 during the same period four years ago). USA Today‘s circulation has also dropped from 2.3 million subscribers in 2007 to 1.83 million for the six months ending in March.

To address falling revenue, a decline in subscriptions and opportunities on new platforms, USA Today has announced new appointments in circulation, finance and news and five new departments have been established. As PaidContent explains, USA Today is moving toward content hubs instead of four traditional departments (news, money, life and sports).

The changes were announced internally Thursday and are being implemented today. The management and executive changes include:

  • Rudd Davis will be VP of Business Development, overseeing new business opportunities and partnerships including brand licensing, content syndication, acquisitions and joint ventures. Davis will also assume oversight of USA Today‘s retail, hotel and education-based partnerships. Davis was previously President and Founder of BNQT.
  • Jeff Dionise is now VP of Product Development and Design. Dionise will oversee research and development of USA Today products across all of the brand’s networks. Dionise was previously Director of Design for
  • Heather Frank will become VP of Vertical Development. Frank will be in charge of creating, implemented and managing new and existing content verticals.  overseeing the department dedicated to the creation and implementation of new as well as existing vertical content areas. Frank was previously General Manager of USA Today‘s “Your Life” health and lifestyle vertical, which launches in September.
  • Steve Kurtz is now VP of Digital Development. Kurtz will focus on developing and maintaining technology and systems to support the publication’s website, mobile, iPhone and iPad platforms. Kurtz will also oversee the development as well as acquisition of digital and emerging platform space. Kurtz was previously Director of Digital Information Technology for

USA Today will get rid of the separate managing editors who oversee the publication’s News, Sports, Money and Life sections and divide the newsroom into 13 “content rings.”

The content rings will consist of Your Life, Travel, Breaking News,  Investigative, National, Washington/Economy, World, Environment/Science, Aviation, Personal Finance, Autos, Entertainment and Tech. The Sports division will be a separate business headed by Ross Schaufelberger who has been named VP and General Manager of the new USA Today Sports.

USA today also appointed a number of new executives. Check out the press release for full details.

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