By: Dwight Cunningham
Papers’s Game Plan in Place
When the undefeated Florida State Seminoles take on the also-undefeated Virginia Tech Hokies in the Sugar Bowl Jan. 4 for college football supremacy, the Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat will have its own game plan.
There’s the Democrat’s version of the trick play ? printing 5,000 “special edition” copies each day from 90 miles away in Biloxi, Miss. Street hawkers will do the “Statue of Liberty,” holding up copies of the eight- to 12-page sports section for the Seminole throng staying at New Orleans hotels and wherever home-team fans are gathered.
The newspaper will have at least 14 players on its team ? five writers, three photographers, and “probably as many as six circulation people,” said Democrat quarterback Michael Pate, who doubles as publisher the other 51 weeks of the year.
“It’s part of our slogan of ‘Keeping you in touch,'” said Pate, a Florida State
University alum. “For Tallahassians for those three days, [the game] is going to be local news.” About 20,000 to 30,000 FSU faithful are expected to attend the event, he said.
Last year, when FSU took on Tennessee for the national championship at the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix (FSU lost), the newspaper partnered with Thomson Newspapers for a special edition. Printing 3,000 copies of it a day, the Democrat also traded some copy with The Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel, Pate said.
During bowl week this time around, the Biloxi, Miss., Sun Herald, a Knight Ridder sister paper, will provide production, marketing, and distribution services to the Democrat. Pre-game and game-day editions on Jan. 3 and 4 will carry Sugar Bowl and related events of interest to FSU fans, Pate said. The day after the game, a “sports extra” section will be produced. It will be an eight-page package, with full-color photography, statistics, and game quotes, Pate said. That means FSU Coach Bobby Bowden and several of the team’s All-Americans will be quoted extensively in the special edition.
“After we win, on Thursday we will
be coming back with another section that will wrap the entire newspaper” back in Tallahassee. The paper has signed on the FSU boosters organization to assist with advertising, and “we’re expecting to have more advertisers on board.”
Pate said he did not have cost projections for the Sugar Bowl effort, and while he was hopeful that a profit could be made, he viewed the special editions as opportunities to keep the FSU faithful in touch for what has become the No. 1 news story in Florida’s Big Bend country.
One thing for sure, he added, is the game’s outcome. His prediction: 27-20. FSU, of course.
Cunningham is a free-lance writer based in New York.
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(copyright: Editor & Publisher December 25, 1999) [Caption]