Neuharth, Al

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Al Neuharth (Allen Harold Neuharth), 1924–2013, American media executive, b. Eureka, S.Dak., grad. Univ. of South Dakota (1950). In 1954 he began working as a reporter for The Miami Herald, and by 1960 was executive editor of The Detroit Free Press. He joined the relatively small Gannet chain as general manager in 1963, rising quickly to president (1970) and CEO (1973–89). He added dozens of dailies as well as television and radio stations to the Gannet roster, slashing costs, raising ad prices, increasing the hiring of minorities and women, and playing a key role in transforming the chain into one of America's largest and most successful media conglomerates. In 1982 he founded USA Today, a national newspaper with bright colors, bold graphics, and short, easily read news stories and features, often focused on lifestyle, sports, health, or consumer issues. The paper's approach changed both the face of journalism and the newspaper industry; it competed with television, amassed a huge circulation, and readied print journalism for Internet age competition. Critics, however, condemned Neuharth for diluting the content and quality of the traditional newspaper. After retirement, he founded the Freedom Forum to promote First Amendment issues and also the Newseum, a Washington, D.C., journalism museum.

See his autobiography (1989).