USA Today unveils new redesign

USA Today | García Media | Editor & Publisher

"We are reclaiming our leadership in visual storytelling with a new brand identity that's as dynamic as the news itself, that's an expression of our editorial voice, and vice versa." I have no idea what that sentence means, but it's part of how USA Today explains its redesign, which launches Friday, in this video.

USA Today shows off what the front page will look like in a story that also says the organization "will increase the amount of original reporting in its pages and host more videos produced by the more than 5,000 journalists at USA TODAY and other Gannett properties."
That dot's got a lot of work to do in the new design:

USA TODAY's new logo -- a large circle in colors corresponding to to the sections -- will be an infographic that changes with the news, containing a photo or image that represents key stories of the day.

Mario García writes about how USA Today's news briefs and riot of color were regarded with equal parts fascination and revulsion in many newsrooms after the newspaper's 1982 launch.

I cannot tell you how many times in my career post-1982 I have heard both editors and readers tell me: I do not want this newspaper to turn into another fluffy USA TODAY.
Each time I would be the reassuring father: Don’t worry, we will not replicate USA TODAY.
And in our next workshop, we would be discussing section color coding, more briefs, and better utilization of graphics.

The paper's iconic weather page will "sport a cleaner look," USA Today says. Former Poynter visual faculty member George Rorick designed the original page, which used color and kicky graphics. In a 2004 interview as he retired, Rorick talked about the development of the page, the "flaps" he built by hand to separate colors and the unexpected rock-star status the page bestowed on him:

It got to be embarrassing the first two years. I really mean it, it was embarrassing. TV cameras would come in to interview people at USA Today, and then they’d come to the art department and say they’d want to see the guy who did the weather. And all of the other artists (would have) really long faces.

John K. Hartman has written two books about USA Today; in an essay on Editor & Publisher he predicts "USA Today will be shuttered in the next three years." He has assembled a rather dunning list of what he sees as the paper's challenges and opportunities. Its original audience has moved on, Hartman writes, but the paper still might be able to become a conversation-starter. One sample suggestion:

Hire some top newspaper and magazine columnists, and add celebrities and TV personalities; feature four of them per day. All of a sudden, you will be leading the discussion in the country instead of following it. Elevate USA Today columnists Craig Wilson and Chris Brennan, and hire outside for the rest. Move news summaries to the
second page.

As it happens, Christine Haughney writes top columnist Michael Wolff will write a weekly media column for USA Today.

He also notes the paper's "colorful blue logo shows up very nicely on a computer screen in a public place."

Here's the full text of the video:

The USA Is a place filled with innovators, moviemakers, record-breakers, rock 'n' rollers, impossible dreamers. USA Today is a forum for understanding and unity to help make the USA truly one nation. We are USA Today. We are not from a particular city -- or a particular worldview. Our vision is broader, and we're here to help Americans do their thing -- whatever that might be. We're connecting them to the stories they care about -- not only telling, but showing. And providing tools that let our readers take action. The U.S. is a set of ideas, stories, beliefs that are being discussed and revised daily. Welcome to the innovative essential news source for the USA Today -- and tomorrow. We are reclaiming our leadership in visual storytelling with a new brand identity that's as dynamic as the news itself, that's an expression of our editorial voice, and vice versa. We're producing content that reflects the shared American experience, spirit and conversation. In the end our product is not paper or silicon -- our products are understanding and utility. At USA Today we're not trying to bring an imaginary America to life; we're trying to help Americans live the life they've always imagined. USA Today: Join the nation's conversation.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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