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USA Today to join The Cable Game?

Written By mista sense on Sunday, August 29, 2010 | 2:52 PM

So USA Today is planning "radical changes," according to AP.   That means big layoffs, of course, but in addition, the paper, founded in 1982, is looking to go mostly digital--appearing on hand-held devices and the like. 

The Cable Gamer long had high hopes for USA Today--even though those hopes long since stopped being realized.  When it debuted, it seemed fresh and colorful; old-line critics denounced it as "McPaper," but hey, McDonald's has done pretty darn well.    The bright graphics seemed attuned to the television age; indeed, the news boxes were designed to look like TV sets.

Although, of course, nowadays the boxes look like old TV sets--the flatscreen revolution left USA Today, behind, emblematic of the overall reality that new technology has left the newspaper biz behind.

TCG might also note that in its first few years, the paper was notably different from the rest of the MSM.  That was back in the 80s, during Ronald Reagan's presidency, years when the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, etc. were during their best to convince Americans that they were in an economic depression.  By contrast, USAT was bright, even perky--more in tune with the the reality that it was "morning in America," as Reagan called it.    So in this sense, the early USAT was something of a predecessor to Fox News--it wasn't that USAT was more conservative, it was just that it wasn't unrelentingly negative.  But sadly, that facet of USAT withered as the paper becames just another MSM rag, albeit with more color. 

And as we know, USAT failed to get any traction on TV, the obvious place where it should have branched into.  That was 20 years ago, and the effort to create a TV news show was a big flop, even with the help of TV legend Grant Tinker.  to make any significant leap into the digital age. Sure, the paper has a website, and it's not bad, but there's nothing compelling about it.

Will that change?  We shall see.  We shall how USAT and its parent, Gannett, manage to compete with all the other brands competing for space on your PDA.  But one thing is for sure: Everybody will be competing with everybody else--newspaper, cable, Net, all of them.

And so in some form or fashion, USAT will be in the Cable Game, because as noted here, everything is going to Converge. 

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