Larry Kramer, the founder of MarketWatch, was named president and publisher of USA Today. The appointment comes as the Gannett flagship, like most newspapers, faces declining print advertising and circulation revenue while struggling to monetize its digital audience. Kramer, who is a veteran journalist as well as media executive, spoke with Adweek about his plans for a new news distribution model, content verticals and his unconventional new office location.
Adweek: You’ve spent a good part of your career focused on remaking journalism for digital platforms. How are you going to apply that experience to USA Today?
Kramer: It’s going to be fun. What I like about this is, there are the resources hidden in this company to do something amazing. We’re going to translate the brand to [Gannett’s other properties] to use content fluidly among them because it’s ridiculous to think they compete with each other. Plus, there’s a lot of talent here on the TV side and the digital side. We’re already building a vertical out of sports. There are probably multiple verticals we could build that way.
There are several areas where we have an edge. Our business coverage is much more consumer-oriented than other national media. And they’re trusted. I may want to build out a couple of verticals like entrepreneurship. We have a platform for the arts that I think would be very interesting. We can be an online clearing house for video.
You talk about organizing the newsroom around the content rather than the platform. Given the many cuts that have hit the edit side lately, do you foresee further cutbacks?
I don’t think so. We need to get multiple revenue streams going. More people read us on digital than on print now, and that means by definition we should be getting more revenue from digital. I just got here, but I believe based on what I’ve been told, the company’s committed to making this work. I’m also a pragmatic businessman as well as a journalist, and I want to make sure we’re spending money in the most efficient way.
You’re heading up the search for the next top editor. What’s a candidate have to do to impress you?
I’m interested in people with multiplatform experience. There are good people here, and I’ve got to spend some time meeting them to see if the next editor is here. It’s always a delicate balancing act. You’ve got to have an experienced journalist but someone who knows how to lead. Meanwhile, I’m putting an office in the newsroom and spending some time here.
You don't think that'll unnerve people?
I don’t think so. I asked people, and they seemed happy about it. This is the first time in a long time they’ve had an editorial person in the publisher’s seat.