From the memo that Richard sent this afternoon to his staff:
I can well remember my first day at USA TODAY in January 1982. It was filled with so much promise and wonderment. Finally, journalists, artists, photographers and designers would get an opportunity to create the newspaper of their dreams. It was a day for which we all had dreamed. Thanks to Neuharth’s vision, the deep pockets of Gannett and the creative talents of many (including many of you now reading this memo), we did just that, having produced a newspaper that smartly defied the critics and continues to serve millions of readers each and every day. Years from now, when we’re sitting on park benches remembering what it was like in the good old days, we’ll remind ourselves that we made this newspaper Number One. I am confident it will remain so.
So it is with some reluctance but also much anticipation of what the future holds that I announce I’m leaving USAT at the end of December. Retirement is something I’ve contemplated for over a year, and while it has to come at some point, many factors make this the right time.
…This has been a journey well worth taking, and the rewards have been immense. You, and this place, have given me fond memories of these 27 years, enough for a lifetime. I can never repay the debt I owe for this experience, so I’ll just say thanks for what you’ve contributed to those memories.
Please know that working with you and leading this department has been the highlight of my career. I shall always look upon our accomplishments with pride and great fondness. It has been a privilege and a distinct honor to have served you and to have served with you.
Richard Curtis, an old friend who helped me launch the SND Spanish Chapter, has been one of the most influential and humble newspaper designers in this country.
For many pundits, his USA Today was a cheap newspaper — the “McPaper” — but today nobody would dispute the success and quality of this amazing paper. It now sells more copies than any other newspaper in the US.
USA Today is perhaps the most European newspaper published in the United States.
Compact and compelling, well organized, easy to read, visually oriented, full of color, good printing, and very popular around the world.
Many of these achievements are due to Richard Curtis, who, though he never wanted to be in the spotlight as a design guru, at the end of the day has led one of the country’s best newspaper design departments.
As one of the founders of the Society of Newspaper Design (SND) he will get the credit that he deserves more than anybody else: he was one of the best of the best.
More about Richard Curtis here in Charles Apple’s blog.