Obama Newspapers Selling Fast

Nov. 5, 2008

 

Chicago residents hoping to snag commemorative election editions of the Chicago Tribune or the Chicago Sun-Times the morning after Barack Obama’s historic Presidential victory had to act quickly. By 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, newsstand shelves in the Loop were bare.

Whoever said the newspaper industry was dying obviously was not talking about Election Day 2008 and the Obama newspaper phenomenon.

”I literally put 50 cents in the driver’s hand,” said Linda, who caught a Sun-Times deliveryman pulling up to a newspaper box just in time to get her Obama newspaper. The Monroe Street real estate secretary, who declined to give her last name, doesn’tt usually buy the paper, but this was an exception.

Heightened demand for headlines displaying the election of the nation’s first African-American president kept Chicago newspaper companies busy throughout the day.

”We printed pretty close to 50 percent additional copies above normal daily circulation,” said Tammy Chase, director of corporate communications for Sun-Times Media Group, Inc. “They sold out this morning, so we are printing another 10 to 15 percent.”

That 10 to 15 percent arrived in the Loop around 11 a.m. and also vanished within minutes.

Around 1 p.m. more copies of the Sun-Times were set to arrive at the CVS/pharmacy on the corner of Adams and State Streets.

”It is all based on rumors and conjecture,”  said Alex, who works at a non-profit agency in the Loop and declined to give his last name. The 25-year-old Avondale resident said he heard that a newsstand from down the street was bringing papers to the CVS.

Alex stood second in a line of about 25 people for more than a half- hour waiting for his paper.

”I am considering giving up and scrounging around in my own neighborhood,” he said. “I’m really stretching my lunch break here.\"

Seconds later papers arrived and customers quickly depleted the small stack of Sun-Times. Again, the rack was empty.

Chase said the normal press run is about 200,000 but that they had doubled the normal single-copy circulation run to 405,000 to meet the demand.

”Our Sun-Times store is incredibly busy and people are driving to our Ashland [Ave.] plant to buy papers from the guard at the plant entrance,” she added.
”It’s good for business, but only today,” said Damyabhai Patel, who runs a newsstand on the corner of Clark and Adams Streets and usually has a harder time selling his papers.

Newspapers were delivered to Patela’s stand at 7:30 a.m. and by 8:30 a.m. they were gone. His meager shipment included 20 to 25 copies of the Chicago Sun-Times, 10 to 15 copies of the Chicago Tribune and two to three copies each of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times.

Of course, special edition papers also help the companies that produce them.

”We couldn’t think of a better way to display our new layout,” said Michael Dizon, communications manager of Chicago Tribune Media Group.

Dizon said the Tribune printed 200,000 more copies of today’s edition to meet increased demand for Obama newspapers.

”We’ve been preparing for today’s edition for months,” he added. The paper wanted to make sure that everything from election coverage to printing and distributionwent according to plan.

While according to Dizon, the Chicago Tribune focused on getting its election edition papers to 7-Eleven stores throughout the Chicago area, other retailers spent the day turning customers away.

Fifteen minutes after Metromart at 125 S. Clark St. opened, papers were gone. Store clerk Neelam Shah, whose photo with Barack Obama hangs behind the counter, said the store received more than double its typical shipment of the two big Chicago papers today. Still, 30 Sun-Times and 16 Tribunes flew off the shelves.

Daily newspapers from New York to Seattle faced similar problems supplying commemorative edition papers.

The Cincinnati Enquirer sold out of single copies of today\'s paper and printed 10,000 extra copies of the election results section.

Around noon, a line of people outside The New York Times waited on delivery of an added press run of 50,000 copies.

The Plain Dealer sold out in Cleveland and copies are being reprinting to be inserted in tomorrow\'s single-copy sales.

The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer were almost sold out at noon and the Washington Post had to print 150,000 extra copies of its Obama newspaper in addition to the 30 percent increase in circulation.

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