The People's Paper

Read by millions, often ignored by peers, the U.S.'s biggest newspaper wants to add prestige to its popularity

When Karen Jurgensen became editor of USA Today in 1999, she became news herself. Several competing papers did stories on her, in part because she was one of few women to run a major newspaper. ("It was like I had three heads," says Jurgensen, who thinks the gender angle was overblown.) In nearly every piece, she noticed an error--nothing huge, she says, but enough to make her think, No wonder people don't like the media. So Jurgensen instituted an "accuracy program." USA Today began selecting at random stories it had published, then checking back with sources to find mistakes--and, of course,...

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