At that time, the USA Today was printed on a much better system, apparently, because it would have many more pages of color and the color alignment was always nearly perfect. The halftone dot pitch was always smaller too, making a sharper image.
Today, the local paper is even better than that. In fact, the print quality of photos is so good that I was able to notice something else that has changed a lot over the years... all the images are digital. When I looked closely at the edge of G.W.'s ear on the front page of a recent paper, I could see JPEG compression artifacts along the sharp border of contrast. My friends thought I was nuts, but know what I saw. :)