By: Joe Strupp
Pasadena paper’s bet pays off
Star-News gets a kick out of Women’s World Cup final
When the Star-News in Pasadena, Calif., took a $1,000 gamble on the final game of the Women’s World Cup 1999 soccer championship last week, it paid off.
In planning coverage for the final game between the U.S. and Chinese teams July 10 at the Rose Bowl, which is located just blocks from the 40,000-daily-circulation paper, executive editor Dorothy Reinhold decided to take a chance that America’s sweethearts could pull off the win.
As part of its preparation, the Star-News printed 7,000 copies of a four-page special section with the headline, “We Win!” The section, printed four days before the game, included a front-page story about the victory by the women’s team, with inside profiles of each player and a recap of the tournament run.
But, since it was printed days before the game, it included no final score and no reference to the final game other than to say it was a sellout and that President Clinton had attended.
“We just decided to go for it because we thought that if the team won, it would be worthwhile,” says Reinhold, who oversees the Star-News along with four other area papers owned by MediaNews Group. “At worst, it would have just ended up being papers we’d recycle.”
Reinhold says the extra section cost about $1,000 to print. After the U.S. team’s win in the final tie-breaking penalty kick shootout, all of the copies were either sold to fans in the Rose Bowl parking lot or wrapped around the July 10 issue of the Star-News.
“It’s unusual, and I don’t remember us doing anything like this since I’ve been here,” says Reinhold, a six-year Star-News veteran. “It was a risk, but it was worth it.”
The newspaper’s coverage began with the tournament’s opening game June 19, according to sports editor Steve Hunt, who put three members of his nine-person sports reporting staff full time on the tournament.
The extra coverage on the final weekend helped boost single-copy sales, which jumped 76% on Saturday and 51% on Sunday.
In neighboring Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times beefed up coverage for the women’s tournament, according to sports editor Bill Dwyre, who says he assigned three sportswriters to cover all 32 games of the tournament, which were held in venues from New Jersey to Washington state.
Although he would not divulge the cost of sending writers to each game site, Dwyre says “If it’s less than $30,000, I’d be surprised.” Dwyre also assigned eight writers to cover the final game, which the Times played up with two front-page stories and five inside articles July 11.
The game also sparked interest at several newspapers near the University of North Carolina, where eight of the U.S. National Team members, including Mia Hamm ? the world’s goal-scoring leader ? went to college. At both The News & Observer in Raleigh and The Herald-Sun in Durham, sports sections gave extra attention.
The News & Observer, which ran daily stories about the tournament and the UNC alumni for weeks, capped its coverage July 11 with a large Page One story and photo, two inside stories, and a full-color page of photos in sports, according to assistant sports editor Teri Boggess.
“We squeezed a few things into other pages to make sure we had the room,” says Boggess.Single-copy sales manager Sylvia Parks says the interest in the game boosted weekend sales by about 10%.
At the 50,000-daily-circulation Herald-Sun, single-copy sales also peaked slightly by about 9% on the day after the final game, according to circulation manager Ed Rose.
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?(copyright: Editor & Publisher July 17, 1999) [Caption]