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USA TODAY Readership Program Wins Gannett IDEAS Competition

ARLINGTON, VA — USA TODAY’s drive to bring newspapers to college campuses across the USA is the winner of the 2000 Gannett IDEAS (Innovator Drive for Excellence Awards) competition.

The Newspaper Readership Program brought together the newspaper and education worlds to encourage newspaper readership and sales and to enhance the learning environment on college and university campuses by broadening the perspective of students on world and national affairs.

The program developed an innovative distribution and billing system that delivered USA TODAY and local newspapers to students in their residence halls and made acquiring the newspapers relatively effortless — a key to encouraging the readership habit. Members of the readership program team had to gain the participation of local papers, coordinate their distribution with USA TODAY, create a multi-product billing system, market and advertise the idea and join with the schools in a newspaper recycling program.

Expanding on an idea first conceived in 1996 at Pennsylvania State University, the USA TODAY program rolled out during 1999. Four campuses hosted pilot programs in the first half of the year. By December 1999, 46 schools committed to the program, generating additional sales of 8,600 per day.

Team members were Diane Barrett, Susan Urquhart, Lee Caylor, Joel Smart, Katie Kolesky and Carla Nicolosi.

More than 125 projects initiated in 1999 were entered in the 2000 IDEAS contest. In addition to the top prize, the IDEAS judges named five runners-up.

— The Iowa City Press-Citizen and The Des Moines Register: Jointly produced Sunday newspaper. On Aug. 29, 1999, after months of planning, the state edition of The Des Moines Register was inserted into a “wrapper” produced by the staff of the Press-Citizen, giving residents of Iowa City late-breaking news in their first Sunday newspaper. The Register’s circulation in Johnson County more than tripled, advertisers had more options and Iowa City residents had a local product.

— The USA TODAY Internet Stock Index. The performance of 100 Internet company stocks is tracked by the USA TODAY index, the broadest, most comprehensive in the nation. Since its introduction, major brokerages have used it, readers have praised it as innovative and the Internet industry has adopted it. The index has become a sales tool and a potential moneymaker for USA TODAY.

— The Bolton Evening News youth newspapers project. A newspaper by and for young people was the goal of Newsquest’s paper in Bolton, which launched MTP (Millennium Teenage Paper) in November 1999. The project spawned requests for other youth papers throughout the region and is leading the way in the United Kingdom for publications designed to attract readers of the future.

— WGRZ (Buffalo) and USA TODAY: Experience Today. Creating informed, literate citizens and life-long learners for the 21st century were the goals of Experience Today, the partnership between WGRZ and USA TODAY in Western New York. The program puts newspapers and a lesson plan in 120 classrooms and airs daily “Experience Today” segments on TV. A once-a-week evening broadcast involves parents and other viewers, and use of the Internet is encouraged.

— Newspaper Division: The Principles of Ethical Conduct for Newsrooms. A desire to establish clear, high standards of news gathering in the face of the newspaper industry’s serious credibility problems drove the development of the Principles of Ethical Conduct. Under the program, the Newspaper Division outlined the principles, then worked to ensure reporters and editors were trained in them and the public was informed of them.

“Developing the next generation of newspaper readers was a profound theme running through this year’s competition, and the first-place winner is a superior example of how to accomplish that goal. But picking a winner was as difficult as ever thanks to all the fine entries that demonstrate the creativity and quality Gannett employees bring to their communities,” said John J. Curley, chairman and CEO.

Judges for the competition were Curley, Doug McCorkindale, vice chairman and president; Dick Clapp, senior vice president/human resources; Cecil Walker, president and CEO, Gannett Broadcasting; Gary Watson, president, and Carleton Rosenburgh, senior vice president, Gannett Newspaper Division.

Gannett Co., Inc. is an international news and information company that publishes 74 daily newspapers in the USA, including USA TODAY, the nation’s largest-selling daily newspaper. The company also owns a variety of non-daily publications and USA WEEKEND, a weekly newspaper magazine. Newsquest plc, a wholly owned Gannett subsidiary acquired in mid-1999, is one of the largest regional newspaper publishers in England with a portfolio of more than 180 titles. Its publications include 11 daily newspapers with a combined circulation of approximately 450,000. Newsquest also publishes a variety of non-daily publications, including Berrow’s Worcester Journal, the oldest continuously published newspaper in the world. Gannett also operates 22 television stations and is an Internet leader with sites sponsored by most of its TV stations and newspapers including, one of the most popular news sites on the Web.