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USA Today founder Al Neuharth dies at 89

USA Today founder Al Neuharth speaks at the opening of the "Newseum" in Arlington, April 18. NEWSEUM - RTR35OR
USA Today founder Al Neuharth speaks at the opening of the "Newseum" in Arlington, April 18. NEWSEUM - RTR35OR

(Reuters) - Al Neuharth, who founded USA Today more than 30 years ago and saw the newspaper become one of the largest in the United States, died on Friday at age 89, the newspaper reported.

Neuharth died after sustaining injuries in a fall at his home in Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA Today said.

He founded USA Today in 1982, shaking up the newspaper industry by introducing a color newspaper that emphasized shorter stories, graphics, expanded sports and entertainment coverage.

The head of the Gannett Co. newspaper group at the time, Neuharth bet USA Today's new look and concept as a national newspaper would engage readers. It initially was met with widespread criticism from industry analysts and some newspaper editors derided it as the "McPaper."

Neuharth led Gannett for more than 15 years, helping the company to become the largest newspaper chain in the United States. He retired in 1989.

USA Today grew into the biggest newspaper in the country by average weekday circulation in 1999 and held the top spot for a decade before being overtaken by the Wall Street Journal, according to the Alliance for Audited Media.

Last year, USA Today was the second-largest newspaper in circulation with 1.7 million daily readers.

(Reporting by Kevin Gray; Editing by Stacey Joyce)

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