USA Weekend, USA Today Your Life Combine Edit Teams

Move follows continued ad page declines

Gannett has merged the editorial teams of USA Weekend, its Sunday newspaper supplement, and USA Today’s Your Life, a lifestyle newspaper section and online vertical it launched this past fall.

The change comes at a time of prolonged print advertising challenges for the biggest U.S. newspaper company and the industry in general, though, leading Gannett to lay off thousands of workers and mandate unpaid leaves for its remaining workforce.

Gannett said the merger would help USA Weekend go after female readers and the advertisers that want to reach them by increasing the amount of lifestyle content in the magazine.

As part of the merger, USA Weekend's edit team will now be part of a combined team that's being overseen by Heather Frank, vice president of consumer media for USA Today, and Your Life content will appear in USA Weekend. Christine Allegro was named general manager of what’s now being called the USA Today Your Life group, which now includes USA Weekend. Nancy Kerr was named editor of USA Today Your Life, overseeing content of the Your Life section and USA Weekend magazine. Chuck Gabrielson continues as president and publisher of USA Weekend.

There were some layoffs, including that of advertising svp Rob Harrison, but Gabrielson said after staff was added elsewhere, the overall head count stayed about the same.

Gannett has stopped breaking out its print ad performance at USA Today, but it disclosed that total newspaper advertising revenue declined 7 percent in the first quarter of 2011 versus the same period last year. Meanwhile, USA Weekend’s ad pages declined 11.2 percent, per Publishers Information Bureau. Rival Parade fared no better; its pages declined 15.7 percent to 127.