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USA Today founder Allen Neuharth dead at 89

By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 2:35 PM EDT, Sun April 21, 2013
"Al Neuharth reinvented news,'' USA Today Publisher Larry Kramer says.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Allen H. Neuharth championed USA Today against a skeptical board
  • His bold risk paid off as a journalistic success
  • "The editors who called us McPaper stole our McNuggets," he liked to say
  • He died after suffering injuries in a fall at his Florida home

(CNN) -- Allen H. Neuharth, who revolutionized American newspapering by founding USA Today with its colorful layouts and concise storytelling that influenced many media empires, died Friday in his home in Cocoa Beach, Florida, the newspaper said. He was 89.

"The longtime newspaperman, media executive and columnist died after sustaining injuries in a fall at his home," USA Today said.

Neuharth was a former chairman of Gannett, the publisher of USA Today and 81 other newspapers, who made journalistic history when he took a bold risk launching a daily in 1982 that declared itself the first general interest national newspaper. He battled his own board of directors in championing the publication.

Some traditionalists of American journalism criticized USA Today for its emphasis on shorter articles -- calling it "McPaper" -- but the paper developed into an extraordinary success financially and journalistically. The newspaper is now the nation's second-largest daily.

The iconoclastic Neuharth was fond of saying that "the editors who called us McPaper stole our McNuggets."

"Al Neuharth reinvented news,'' USA Today Publisher Larry Kramer said in the newspaper's obituary. "Even in our recent efforts to translate his vision into the modern world of digital journalism, we relied on him to tell us if we were going in the right direction."

Neuharth "was, is and always will be USA Today," Dave Callaway, the editor-in-chief, added. "He holds a remarkable place in the history of American journalism, and the spirit and passion which he brought to our industry will never be extinguished."

People we lost in 2013: The lives they lived

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Part of complete coverage on
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Click through our gallery to remember those we lost this year.
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Actor James Avery, who played the beloved Uncle Phil on the hit 1990s sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," has died. He was 67.
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Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian gun designer whose AK-47 rifle became the weapon of choice for many national armies and guerrillas around the world, died.
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Al Goldstein, the foul-mouthed publisher of Screw magazine and pornography pioneer died in New York. He was 77.
updated 3:53 PM EST, Tue December 31, 2013
Actor Daniel Escobar, who played a teacher in "Lizzie McGuire," died from complications of diabetes in Los Angeles. He was 49.
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Ray Price, the Nashville star whose trademark "shuffle" beat became a country music staple, has died at age 87, his agent said.
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Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine died, her longtime friend Noel Beutel said. She was 96.
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Actor Peter O'Toole died peacefully in a hospital at 81 years old.
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Tom Laughlin, the actor who wrote and starred in the "Billy Jack" films of the 1970s, died at age 82.
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Jazz guitarist Jim Hall, who played with the jazz greats of the 20th century and influenced the younger ones, has died, his family said. He was 83.
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Actress Eleanor Parker, nominated for three Oscars and known for her "Sound of Music" role, died Monday at 91, her family said.
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Bill Beckwith, who co-hosted HGTV home-improvement show "Curb Appeal," has died. He was 38.
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Actor Paul Walker, who shot to fame as star of the high-octane street racing franchise "Fast & Furious," died in a car crash in Southern California. He was 40.
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Paul F. Crouch, co-founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, died at age 79.
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Jane Kean, who played diverse roles during a long career but was best known as Trixie on the TV revival of "The Honeymooners," has died. She was 90.
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Singer Wayne Mills, whose "outlaw country" songs center on honky-tonk life, died in a Nashville bar shooting.
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