The day newspapers were cool again

Barack Obama’s win on Tuesday night heralded many historic changes in this country. It also seemed to remind people that newspapers are important. 

Wednesday’s front pages of newspapers across the country were saved for scrapbooks and to recall in future years the day that America elected its first Black president. USA Today, the Washington Post and other paper printed thousands of extra copies. Newspapers couldn’t be found anywhere. Or as this story from the NY Times puts it:

The election of Barack Obama produced a clamor for newspapers that publishers said they had never seen. From The Cincinnati Enquirer to The Charlotte Observer to The Dallas Morning News, papers accustomed to years of declining sales pumped out extra copies by the thousands, and could not keep pace with demand.

Ebay and Craigslist sold copies for more than $200, reports the article. That is crazy! Even newspaper offices’ lobbies turned into newsstands, with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution selling 16,000 copies. 

Newspapers anticipated some extra demand, but they underestimated. The New York Times had printed 35 percent more than the usual number of copies for individual sale on Wednesday, an increase of about 150,000. Later, it printed 75,000 more.

On an average weekday, The Washington Post has single-copy sales — newsstand and store sales, as opposed to subscriptions — of about 100,000. It printed 30,000 extra on Tuesday night.

“It sold out almost instantly,” said Steve Hills, president and general manager of Washington Post Media.

On Wednesday morning, The Post ordered up 150,000 copies of a special edition of the day’s paper, charging $1.50, not the usual 50 cents. As the day wore on, it raised that to 250,000, then 350,000. “I’ve been here for 21 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Mr. Hills said.

The Chicago Tribune planned for an extra 20,000 copies, on top of its usual single-copy sales of about 50,000. “We’ve ended up doing 200,000 more,” said Mike Dizon, a Tribune spokesman.

If you, like me, didn’t get a chance to buy a front page chronicling this historic moment, check out this link.

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