Remembering The Man Who Gave The Nation A Newspaper

Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon remembers USA Today founder Al Neuharth, who died on Friday at his home in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Neuharth was 89.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Al Neuharth, the man who launched "USA Today" against all expert advice, has died at the age of 89. He was the chairman of Gannett newspapers who called himself a dreamer and schemer when he got the idea that satellite communications could make a daily national newspaper popular.

Gannett's own board was skeptical. A lot of industry advisers said Americans preferred local news, and that beaming a newspaper by satellite - to be printed across the country - would break down. The paper's mockups were criticized for being flashy, splashy and light, a McPaper.

But Al Neuharth put his millions where his hopes were, to begin USA Today in 1982. It made money within five years, and is now the second-largest daily newspaper in the United States. Over the years, USA Today's glossy front-page graphics, expanded weather map, shorter articles, celebrity snippets and lifestyle reporting have been adopted by once great and grave local newspapers.

The editors who called us McPaper, said Al Neuharth, stole our McNuggets.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News.

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