Happy 40th Anniversary, USA TODAY!
It’s September 15, and 40 years ago today the way Americans read their daily news fundamentally changed when USA TODAY was launched. Happy Anniversary to The Nation’s Newspaper–especially to the founders! Five short years later, One Of A Kind Art Studio’s destiny to create corporate 3-dimensional commemorative art was launched.
September 15 brings back great memories of my seven years working for USA TODAY before joining Lawrence Romorini to found One Of A Kind Art Studio. There was never a more dedicated and inspiring team to work with, and a bonus of many lifelong friendships.
Anyone associated with the early years especially remembers the loaner program, an innovative idea to bring Gannett journalists to D.C. from across the country to create the first successful national newspaper. This program enabled talented writers from Vermont to Hawaii, and Texas to Minnesota, to share their diverse perspectives in reporting and editorial writing. The housing, transport, caring, and feeding of loaners is a story in itself.
People today may be unaware just how revolutionary and risky the endeavor was in 1982. But Founder Al Neuharth had the vision and drive to succeed. He particularly saw an opportunity to market to the business traveler, more interested in national than local news. A telecommunications satellite enabled the company to beam down the newspapers to print sites across the country and finally the world. There were many detractors, of course, such as “Newsweek”, referring to the paper as “McPaper, the Big Mac of Journalism.” Neuharth’s response: “The editors who called us McPaper stole our McNuggets.”
In 1987, Peter Prichard published his behind-the-scenes look at the early planning days, The Making of McPaper: The Inside Story of USA Today, recounting the huge challenges and colorful personalities in those early years. On the anniversary, it’s a great time to pull his book off the shelf and enjoy the memories.
USA TODAY also plays a pivotal role in the history of our studio as the first corporate commission for Lawrence’s 3-dimensional commemorative artwork. We are ever grateful to Gannett President John Curley for the opportunity to commemorate the paper’s story on their fifth anniversary and to honor Al Neuharth and key editors and executives.
Founder Al Neuharth’s art had to be extraordinary. And it was. The collage featured an actual 1926 Royal typewriter, an exact duplicate of the one he started his journalism career with as a cub reporter at the Miami Herald. A first edition of USA TODAY is positioned coming out of the carriage.
For the USA TODAY executive collages, the centerpiece was the logo, which was still fairly new, created in 3D. Each piece was customized with symbols of the leader’s role.
The enthusiasm following the artwork’s presentation on September 15, 1987 led directly to the formal launch of One Of A Kind Art Studio, specializing in 3-dimensional corporate art. Now, more than three decades and a thousand commissions later there are many reasons to celebrate.
Cheers and congrats to all who played a part!