- The USA Today Network launched a yearlong multiplatform series about the year 1968, which it calls "one of America's most transformative years," according to a news release.
- The series, partly sponsored by AARP, will integrate long-form stories, video, data-intensive graphics, photos, podcasts and interactive timelines to cover the most notable historical and cultural events of 1968 and tell the stories of individuals and communities that were impacted by these events.
- Each month will cover a moment of change from 50 years ago, including the Vietnam War, civil rights, space, gender, politics and culture.
Legacy media, including newspapers and magazines, continue to deliver new digital and multiplatform offerings to consumers as viewership continues to decline. Weekday and Sunday circulation of U.S. daily newspapers, both print and digital, dropped 8% in 2016, the 28th straight year of decline, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. Advertising revenue dropped 10% in 2016 to $18 billion, about a third of what it was 10 years before.
USA Today and other publishers, like Time Inc., have been steadily building their digital portfolios to drum up excitement among consumers looking for innovative content. In 2016, USA Today Network began producing a branded weekly virtual reality show on the USA Today app and YouTube, and signed up Toyota as its first brand sponsor for a show called "VRtually There." In a similar vein, Time Inc.'s PeopleTV recently launched several interactive, live-streamed shows for Twitter to engage consumers with compelling or innovative content.
Digital storytelling is a natural fit for newspapers. For its 1968 project, USA Today can leverage the extensive archives and community-based roots of its more than 100 newspaper brands across the country, as well as its teams of reporters. The multimedia approach could be a hit with consumers and drive digital engagement across USA Today and its brands' social media channels, as much of the content will be bite-sized and easily shareable online. But, these kinds of projects can be costly. Many of the country’s top publishers, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Time, have continued to rely on sponsored or branded content as a steady revenue stream.
As a sponsor of the content series, AARP can continue to engage with its target audience: baby boomers, a generation that was alive during 1968 and can likely relate to USA Today's newest content series. In 2015, the organization created Influent50, an ad firm that targets people 50 and older.