USA Today has been the king of the daily newspapers for years now, but The Wall Street Journal has now grown to 2.1 million while the former champ has fallen to a still respectable 1.8 million.  Unlike some companies that wait forever to try to catch up with changes in its industry (we're looking at you Blockbuster), the colorful daily newspaper is about to enact some hard changes that will hopefully keep it from falling any further from its notoriety.

According to The New York Times, USA Today had a company wide meeting this past Thursday where it announced that it would be cutting 130 jobs from its books, bringing the business and editorial departments closer together and putting a heavier focus on breaking news via its website within 30 minutes of the story happening.  Finer details of these plans were sketchy at best, but even what was revealed paves the way for a very radical shift at the newspaper.

USA Today first issueBesides losing ground in the overall daily circulation numbers to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today has been losing ground in the hotel circulation market. In 2007 hotels counted for 800,000 units each day, and that number has now fallen in half to 400,000 with the The Wall Street Journal slowly climbing to 40,000. The Journal has also picked up the Starbucks chain as a distribution partner and it appears it will be in all 6,700 locations by the end of next month.

Despite many complaints about the subscription fees, The Wall Street Journal has become quite popular on the iPad, and you have to wonder if this is the model USA Today is going to follow.  The paper currently offers a free app, but with the focus shifting from print to digital for the company, you have to assume that its going to have to change over to some form of subscription model to make up the lost revenue.

It's kind of sad to see the paper having to go this route when it was once known for its innovation, and now it is having to play a bit of catchup with its competitors.  Hopefully it will find some new way to innovate on the concept, but your guess is as good as mine as to what exactly they could do.

It also makes you wonder if the daily printed newspaper is truly doomed.  I feel there is still something to say for sitting down with a printed newspaper that devices like the iPad and your smartphone just can't capture.  On the plus side, think of the number of trees being saved.

What say you?  Are you ready for the printed newspaper to go away?