Name a reporter at USA Today with a powerful brand–a columnist or blogger you follow.
You probably can’t, says Jay Rosen. “USA Today has always been an editor’s paper—very digestible news is the big idea—not a home for writers or a school for sensibility.” But new president and publisher Larry Kramer says that that time is over.
“We really can’t survive if all we do is commodity journalism. We have to do things that… we say things differently, we help people understand things,” he told Howard Kurtz on CNN. “I’d like us to be more complete and more outspoken in several areas, including stories about the impact of actions by government and business,” he told Politico’s Dylan Byers. ” “What we need here is what we haven’t had before — a lot of strong voices…Here, it was just the USA Today brand by definition…” he told Marketwatch’s Jon Friedman.
He also said that he plans to hire “unique voices”–Kramer’s way of adding value in a supersaturated media landscape. Rosen says the thought is good, but: “Overthrowing that approach isn’t as simple as hiring a few bloggers or loosening the rules for writers. We’re talking about ideological change within an occupation that sees itself as having no ideology. That’s… tricky. And there’s no guarantee that people who excelled at the old way will be any good at the new.”
USA Today announced another round of furloughs last month, the fourth in four years. Parent company Gannett Co. is still profitable, but its profits have fallen far and its revenue has declined for five straight years.