USA Today shuffles the exec deck, resets priorities and downsizes


National newspaper USA Today is looking to cut 9% of its workforce, cutting from a current 1.5K payroll, as it begins to shift away from its print product and focus on mobile offerings. The shift in focus will be felt in the executive suite right away, with other changes coming through the fall.

There is no word which departments of the organization would bear the brunt of the downsizing, but changes are already in the works for the news and business ends of the company.

The changes are designed to face the reality that both subscriptions and ad sales tied to the print edition of the newspaper are in decline, with a new focus on getting quality information to customers when and where they want it.

“This significant restructuring reflects USA TODAY’s evolution from a newspaper company to a multi-platform media company,” said David L. Hunke, President and Publisher of USA TODAY. “When USA TODAY first launched in 1982, we led the news and information industry in aligning our content with readers and advertisers. I’m confident these key executive appointments in new and current departments will continue our legacy as a vital, valuable media brand across print, digital and mobile platforms.”

USA identified five key executive appointments.

* Rudd Davis, Vice President of Business Development

* Jeff Dionise Vice President of Product Development and Design

* Heather Frank, Vice President of Vertical Development

* Steve Kurtz, Vice President of Digital Development

* Ross Schaufelberger, Vice President and General Manager of the new USA TODAY Sports

RBR-TVBR observation: All we can say to USA Today is been there, done that. The future of written news is definitely on the web, which offers challenges in the extreme but at least eliminates ever-increasing costs for things like paper, ink and postage.

Can USA Today pull this off? If any newspaper can do it, this might be the most likely choice. USA Today is not steeped in an inky tradition the way some newspapers are, and it was designed as a maverick print publication in the first place. We’ll be watching to see if it can successfully blaze a trail back to profitability and growth that can be a model for other iconic print journalism brands.