Print news­pa­pers are dead? Not af­ter his­toric elec­tions

Screens don’t have the ro­mance of a news­pa­per’s front page

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Print news­pa­pers may be dis­ap­pear­ing like the home tele­phone, but not af­ter Elec­tion Day. Re­mem­ber­ing the frenzy for old­fash­ioned pa­pers the morn­ing af­ter Barack Obama’s his­toric win in 2008, news­pa­pers are print­ing ex­tra copies and set­ting up tem­po­rary re­tail stands this year, re­gard­less of whether the na­tion elects the first woman or real­ity TV star as pres­i­dent. The Los Angeles Times is also sell­ing a com­mem­o­ra­tive print­ing-press plate of the front page. Many peo­ple now rely on Face­book and apps for news, but a screen­shot doesn’t have quite the same ro­mance as a news­pa­per’s front page. “We like to hold on to things that re­mind us of the ex­pe­ri­ences we’ve had,” like cam­paign but­tons, theater pro­grams or shells from a visit to the beach, said Naomi Baron, an Amer­i­can Univer­sity pro­fes­sor who stud­ies the in­ter­play of lan­guage and tech­nol­ogy. A phys­i­cal ver­sion of a news­pa­per re­count­ing a life-al­ter­ing event like 9/11 or the as­sas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent John F Kennedy is an ex­ten­sion of those keep­sakes that a web­site or app can’t re­place, she said. “Pa­per has a cer­tain kind of look and feel and smell to it that dig­i­tal equiv­a­lents don’t.”

Even so, af­ter a long, sour cam­paign sea­son, de­mand for a front page may be more muted than in 2008. Ben Red­ing­ton, a 34-year-old graphic de­signer from Wi­chita, Kansas, likes buy­ing pa­pers af­ter ma­jor events, such as the Chicago Cubs’ first World Se­ries win in 108 years. But he doesn’t care for ei­ther Clin­ton or Trump and has no plans to buy a news­pa­per Wednes­day. (He didn’t buy an Obama front page ei­ther. News­pa­pers were caught off-guard eight years ago when peo­ple wanted keep­sake copies of the enor­mous pho­tos and dra­matic head­lines declar­ing Obama the na­tion’s first African-Amer­i­can pres­i­dent. Book­stores, con­ve­nience stores and news­stands across the coun­try sold out. Peo­ple de­scended on news­pa­pers’ head­quar­ters in search of copies. “They were steal­ing it off peo­ple’s doorsteps,” Wash­ing­ton Post spokes­woman Kris Co­ratti said. “It was crazy here.”

Many news­pa­pers restarted print­ing presses to meet de­mand. The Post had two ex­tra print runs and is­sued a thin­ner com­mem­o­ra­tive edi­tion in a third. For this year, Co­ratti wouldn’t say how many ad­di­tional copies the Post is plan­ning, but she said it’s sim­i­lar to what the Post printed for Pope Fran­cis’ visit in 2015. She said the news­pa­per is pre­pared for a sec­ond print­ing if needed, leav­ing plates on the presses. The Post will also sell copies on­line and at its of­fices.

The New York Times sold out in many parts of Man­hat­tan be­fore noon and ended up print­ing 225,000 ex­tra copies, said Mark Weitzel, who man­ages cir­cu­la­tion and re­tail sales for the Times. That is more than dou­ble a typ­i­cal day’s sales at news­stands, cof­fee shops, con­ve­nience store and other street sales. This year, he’s ready for a run on a Wednes­day pa­per with a photo of a Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump or Hil­lary Clin­ton, both of whom are New York­ers. The Times plans to print at least 225,000 ex­tra copies and will sell pa­pers out­side its head­quar­ters (though be­cause news­stand sales have de­clined since 2008, the pa­per is send­ing out fewer pa­pers over­all). Else­where, The Seat­tle Times is dou­bling the num­ber of pa­pers avail­able at stores and coin boxes. The Los Angeles Times will send out more than triple the av­er­age num­ber of pa­pers and put a kiosk in front of its build­ing. The Plain Dealer of Cleveland is tripling how many news­pa­pers it sends to stores, to about 100,000, and will have an­other 10,000 to 15,000 on standby at the plant if needed.

Still, that’s fewer than the 500,000 copies The Plain Dealer sold in stores when the Cleveland Cava­liers won their NBA ti­tle in June. Last week, the Chicago Tri­bune printed 700,000 ex­tra copies af­ter the Cubs’ tri­umph and was sell­ing a “World Se­ries” edi­tion of the print pa­per on its web­site. For Wednes­day, the Tri­bune plans just 100,000 ex­tra copies and has no plans to hawk pa­pers in the lobby of the Tri­bune Tower, as it did for the Cubs. If you do want a pa­per but can’t find one, wait a bit for prices to go down, then go on­line. Obama’s 2008 cov­ers are sell­ing on eBay for a few dol­lars, down from as much as $600 in No­vem­ber 2008. —AP

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