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December 11, 2013

Media Note: Condensed USA Today Editions Coming to the Burlington Free Press


Like USA Today AND the Burlington Free Press? If so, Gannett has a deal for you!

The Virginia-based media company announced today that it's inserting condensed versions of its flagship newspaper into 35 local dailies, including the Burlington Free Press. The so-called "Butterfly" edition of USA Today runs about 10 pages, up to 22 on Sundays, and is already active in four markets (here's the memo USA Today's publisher wrote when the pilot project was announced in September). The Freeps and 30 other local papers will get theirs beginning in early 2014.

From the USA Today announcement:

“This is another step in the re-invention of news that Gannett is uniquely positioned to lead,” said Gracia Martore, president and CEO of Gannett, which owns USA Today and 81 local newspapers. “With today’s announcement, we are bringing the power of these brands together to delight and engage consumers like no one else can.”


With national and international content coming from USA Today, Gannett’s community newspapers will have more resources to devote to local coverage, [president of Gannett’s U.S. Community Publishing Robert] Dickey said.

Gannett running USA Today content in its local papers is not new  — you'll find USA Today stories on pages 4A, 7A and 8A of Wednesday's Free Press, for example — but running that content as a separate insert is a shift. Why the new product?

The distribution plan allows USA Today to include the circulation figures from the local papers to its own total. 


With a weekday circulation of 2.88 million, USA Today is already the most popular weekday newspaper in the United States. But the New York Times reports that the paper experienced "a deep dip" in third-quarter ad revenue compared to the same time period in 2012. Gannett says the "Butterflies" could bolster USA Today's circ figures by more than 1.5 million on weekdays and more than 2.5 million on Sundays.

Though buying one newspaper instead of two might save the reader a bit of change, the NYT piece also suggests that a price hike could be on the way: 

Asked whether prices would rise for subscribers receiving the extra USA Today content, a Gannett spokesman, Jeremy Gaines, said, “As we introduce enhanced products, consumers tell us they are willing to pay for the added value we’re bringing them.”

The Free Press hiked subscription rates last summer when it redesigned its print edition. Earlier this year, the paper laid off 13 as part of company-wide cuts at Gannett.

Click here to read the full announcement.

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