By Jennifer Saba
(Reuters) - USA Today, nicknamed "The Nation's Newspaper," is getting local.
Gannett Co, the parent company of the nationally distributed newspaper, announced on Wednesday that it planned to include pages of USA Today in 35 of its local community papers after a fall test proved successful.
The move, which will happen through the first quarter of next year, will increase USA Today's circulation, a metric advertisers watch closely. It will also free up resources so the community newspapers can concentrate on local reporting.
"We can now deliver more of the local content that is so important to our readers, while also providing quality national and international news from USA Today," Robert Dickey, U.S. Community Publishing president, said in a statement.
USA Today targets the average consumer with a populist bent and, because of its widespread presence in hotels and airports, catches people mainly when they travel.
With its content appearing in Gannett's local community newspapers, USA Today will broaden its distribution to people's doorsteps and may increase its appeal to national advertisers looking to expand their audience.
Gannett, along with its peers in the newspaper industry, has weathered persistent declines in advertising revenue. In the third quarter, the company reported a 4 percent drop in revenue to $1.25 billion because of ad sales declines at its newspapers.
Gannett publishes 81 local newspapers throughout the United States, including the Arizona Republic and the Des Moines Register. This past summer, it made a big bet on television with a $1.5 billion deal to purchase Belo Corp, which would nearly double its broadcast holdings to 43 stations.
Shares of Gannett were down 0.3 percent at $25.44 in morning trading.
(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)