Special Inauguration Editions Hit the Streets

By: E&P Staff

Hearkening back to better times for newspapers, hawkers brought cries of “extra, extra” back to street corners Tuesday as passersby shoved change in their hands in exchange for special editions commemorating President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Newspapers nationwide, some of which hadn’t printed special editions since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, printed them by the thousands for sale on street corners, train stations and retail outlets.

“I think it’s a momentous occasion,” Cynthia Gonzalez said as she clutched the 16-page Chicago Tribune bought as she hurried to catch a train to her suburban Skokie home. “I’ve been making a time capsule for my son for years, and this is going to go in it.”

The Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times made tens of thousands of special editions available in Obama’s hometown for a quarter and 50 cents each, respectively, displaying large photographs of the new president, his family and celebrating Chicagoans.

“Yes, we did,” John Donat, 48, of Oak Park, told a hawker outside the train station. “I never thought it would happen.”

“Barack Obama, President of the U.S.,” read the headline on the 70,000 extra editions printed by The Virginian-Pilot, which had not had a special edition since the terrorist attacks and only did so once before ? when World War II ended.

“The historical value of the story really almost equals the other two extras we’ve had,” said Editor Denis Finley.

“Hope Over Fear,” proclaimed the New Haven Register of Connecticut.

“Obviously, it’s a monumental day in all our lives,” said Jack Kramer, editor of the paper, which published 7,500 copies of an eight-page special edition.

The San Francisco Chronicle printed 150,000 extra editions to distribute at drugstores, subway stations and the newspaper’s headquarters. Nicole Washington, 32, of San Francisco, joined a steady stream of people who filed into the Chronicle’s classified advertising office to snatch them up.

She bought 10 copies at $1 apiece to give to friends and family, though she also admitted some economic motivation.

“The Obama phenomenon is an industry, so anything with his name on it ? ka-ching!” said Washington, who said the Chronicle’s post-election extra fetched $7 on eBay within days of selling for $1 on the street.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin’s largest newspaper, rushed out an extra 20,000 to the stands in the afternoon. Pictured was a smiling Obama being sworn in below the headline “Mr. President,” and the front page included the quote from his inaugural address: “With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.”

The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., printed an extra 12-page edition Tuesday, rushing 30,000 copies to press at 12:45 p.m. Copies were selling quickly for 75 cents, executive editor Terry Eberle said.

Executives at various papers said they were caught by surprise the day after Obama’s election and were determined not to let that happen again.

“We had an extraordinary demand for that paper,” said John Drescher, executive editor of The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C. “So that’s why we’re taking this step.”

By early afternoon there were signs they made the right move.

“Some people have come by the paper already looking for copies,” the Virginian-Pilot’s Finley said early in the afternoon.

In Wilmington, Del., The News-Journal printed 15,000 extra copies ? in large part, said the paper’s marketing director J.B. Braun, because the 7,500 extra copies printed when the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series did not meet the demand.

“Change Begins,” read the headline of a front page that featured a photograph of Obama with his hand on the Bible.

Even papers that did not print extra editions Tuesday were nevertheless gearing up for brisk sales Wednesday. The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, for example, were each running a 16-page commemorative section on Wednesday, said Jay Devine, spokesman for Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.

And both papers planned to increase their print runs Wednesday, with The Inquirer printing an extra 73,000 over its 300,000 daily circulation and the Daily News an additional 90,000 on top of its daily 98,000 circulation.

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