USA Today eliminating 35 newsroom jobs as newspaper cuts costs, shifts focus to mobile devices

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

USA Today’s overhaul cuts 35 newsroom positions

SAN FRANCISCO — USA Today is eliminating 35 jobs from its newsroom as it de-emphasizes its print edition and feeds more content to mobile devices.

The cuts outlined in an internal memo Tuesday are part of a sweeping overhaul announced by USA Today Publisher Dave Hunke in August.

About 130 of the 1,500 jobs throughout all of USA Today’s departments are expected to be jettisoned by the time the cutting is done.

Most of the jobs being trimmed in the newsroom are currently vacant, according to the memo obtained by The Associated Press. USA Today spokesman Ed Cassidy declined to say how many people currently work in the newsroom. USA Today Editor John Hillkirk didn’t return calls.

Hunke has described the changes as the most dramatic in the 28-year history of the nation’s second-largest newspaper by circulation, behind The Wall Street Journal.

With the print edition selling fewer copies and less advertising, USA Today is reshuffling its editors, reporters and photographers so they will be in a better position to produce information more quickly and develop story packages more likely to appeal to the growing number of people who are getting their news through mobile phones and sleek computer tablets such as Apple Inc.’s iPad.

That goal prompted USA Today to dismantle a hierarchy that designated separate managing editors to oversee the News, Sports, Money and Life sections of its print edition. The newspaper now plans to revolve around “content rings” that will be run by team leaders. The memo indicated that some of the new team leaders have now been selected, but it didn’t identify them.

USA Today’s newsroom also will work more closely with a business development team in an effort to sell more advertising, the newspaper’s main source of revenue.

Like most other major newspapers, USA Today’s ad revenue has been steadily falling in the past few years as recession clipped marketing budgets and the Internet’s growing audience diverted spending away from print. USA Today’s owner, Gannett Inc., will provide an update on how the newspaper fared during the summer when the company reports its third-quarter earnings on Oct. 15.

Hunke is expected to share more information about USA Today’s reorganization during the week of Oct. 18.

By then, USA Today expects to have filled a handful of newsroom positions that are being created as part of the digital focus. The memo mentioned four positions for investigative reporters as well as a social media editor.

Current employees can apply for up to two of the newly created job openings by Friday.

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