Happy 25th, USA Today

USA Today has come a long way in 25 years, from a flashy startup newspaper to one of the nation’s consistent circulation leaders.

Editor & Publisher marked the anniversary with an article in which industry executives examined the impact that the newspaper has had on journalism:

Since it launched on Sept. 15, 1982, amid complaints that it lacked in-depth reporting and used too many snappy graphics and color photos in place of hard-hitting news, the national daily has taken position as a circulation leader, ranking at or near the top consistently.

In addition, the paper has transformed the way many dailies operate, from pushing shorter, quicker brief-style stories to leading the way in color photography long before others saw the need.

[Continue reading Industry Execs on USA Today]

Unlike most journalists and journalism professors, I’ve been a fan of USA Today almost since the day it launched. Where most saw a lack of depth, I saw concise reporting. Where they criticized the paper for flash without substance, I lauded it for visuals that informed its content. In my experience, it’s also eminently fair in its political coverage.

I even applied for a job there when I graduated college. Unfortunately, they wanted at least five years experience on a newspaper with a circulation of 100,000 or more. Me? The only newspaper I really wanted to work for at the time was USA Today.

Although I frequently call the paper to task in my research, I maintain it is one of the best if not the best newspaper in the country from a consumer’s standpoint. It’s the one newspaper that I can read entirely, or at least in large part, during an hour-long lunch and yet still walk away feeling like I have a handle on what’s happening in the nation and the world. And few people have time enough to devote more than that to a newspaper during a single sitting.

In countless ways, USA Today was a newspaper ahead of its time

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This blog is maintained by Dr. Matthew M. Reavy as a service to journalism students at the University of Scranton.

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