NEW YORK (AP) – USA Today said Friday it will stop publishing its international edition on Feb. 6 but will look for partners in Europe and South America to continue operating it.

Under such an arrangement, similar to one USA Today recently launched in the Caribbean, USA Today would produce the articles, photos and other content, and the partners would print the newspaper locally and sell ads themselves. USA Today would get an unspecified per-copy licensing fee.

“This allows us to continue our international presence under more favorable financial conditions,” USA Today said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The paper said discussions were continuing, but it gave no timetable or word on prospects.

USA Today, published by McLean, Va.-based Gannett Co., is the nation’s top-selling newspaper with an average daily circulation of 2.3 million. About 60,000 is for the international edition.

USA Today, like most other newspapers, has seen advertising revenue drop as the recession compounds declines from the ongoing migration of readers and advertisers to the Internet. This week, the paper announced a one-year wage freeze and joined other Gannett properties in imposing one-week unpaid furloughs for most U.S. employees.

The decision to pull back abroad comes as its national rivals, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, are both expanding, particularly online.

The Journal, under News Corp., already has European and Asian editions in print and is looking to gain readers by developing a Web site and content tailored to readers there, not simply stories about those regions written for a U.S. audience. The Times, meanwhile, has combined forces online with a sister paper, the International Herald Tribune.

Ken Doctor, a media analyst with research firm Outsell Inc., said all papers are having to focus on what they do best, and as an American-focused product, USA Today may be deciding that the costs of publishing abroad weren’t worthwhile.

USA Today’s Web site would remain available to visitors abroad.

AP-ES-01-16-09 1424EST

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.