FILE- in this Thursday, Sept. 25, 2003 file photo provided by the Freedom Forum, Al Neuharth, founder of the USA Today and the Freedom Forum listens as former U.S. Sen. George McGovern speaks during the dedication of the Al Neuharth Media Center on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, S.D. Neuharth has died in Cocoa Beach, Fla. He was 89. The news was announced Friday, April 19, 2013 by USA Today and by the Newseum, which he also founded. (AP Photo/Freedom Forum, Dave Eggen, File)
COCOA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Critics dubbed USA Today “McPaper” when it debuted in 1982, and they accused its founder, Al Neuharth, of dumbing down American journalism with its easy-to-read articles and bright graphics.
Neuharth had the last laugh when USA Today became the nation’s most-circulated newspaper in the late 1990s.
The hard-charging founder of USA Today died Friday in Cocoa Beach, Fla. He was 89. The news was announced by USA Today and by the Newseum, which he also founded.
Jack Marsh, president of the Al Neuharth Media Center and a close friend, confirmed that he passed away Friday afternoon at his home. Marsh said Neuharth fell earlier this week and never quite recovered.
Neuharth changed the look of American newspapers by filling USA Today with breezy, easy-to-comprehend articles, attention-grabbing graphics and stories that often didn’t require readers to jump to a different page. Sections were denoted by different colors. The entire back page of the news section had a colored-weather map of the entire United States. The news section contained a state-by-state roundup of headlines from across the nation. Its eye-catching logo of white lettering on a blue background made it recognizable from a distance.
“Our target was college-age people who were non-readers. We thought they were getting enough serious stuff in classes,” Neuharth said in 1995. “We hooked them primarily because it was a colorful newspaper that played up the things they were interested in — sports, entertainment and TV.”
USA Today was unlike any newspaper before it when it debuted in 1982. Its Login to read more