Across the Country, a Few Papers Publish Election Extras

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(AP) Newspapers scattered across the country published extra editions Wednesday as editors weighed how to cover a close presidential race that remained undecided when morning papers rolled off the presses.

Extras announcing that President Bush had claimed a second term were hurriedly assembled in newsrooms nationwide, from the Chicago Tribune to The Kansas City Star to the Mansfield News-Journal in the deciding state of Ohio.

The Star’s extra was its first since Saddam Hussein was captured in December. The 20,000 papers that arrived on newsstands Wednesday afternoon followed a handful of extra editions from the 1969 moon landing to the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Most papers, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, opted against extra editions, in large part because of the timing of Kerry’s concession, first reported just after 11 a.m. EST.

“By the time we would have had an extra, it would have been out late afternoon,” Managing Editor Arnie Robbins said. The staff chose instead to concentrate efforts on Thursday editions.

Newspaper extras were commonplace a half-century ago but have grown increasingly rare with the Internet and 24-hour news channels.

“In the electronic age, an actual newsprint extra is both a remarkable rarity and sort of an admirable anachronism,” said George Kennedy, a former newspaper editor and a journalism professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

At least one paper put an Internet-age twist on the traditional extra.

Denver’s Rocky Mountain News published two extra editions with the actual newspaper pages viewable only online. The later edition was posted about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“Extras are extremely expensive. They’re very difficult to do,” Editor John Temple said. “But there’s something about front pages that really memorialize an election.”

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