Obama: Good for newspapers — today

November 5, 2008

NEW YORK – In the same way that the Philadelphia Phillies’ World Series win boosted Inquirer and Daily News sales last week, U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama is jumping in to help papers across the country survive.

People across the country flocked to convenience stores and newsstands snatch up copies of their local papers, which ultimately will prove the most enduring mementos commemorating the election of the first black president of the United States. It’s not a long-term game changer, considering that you can’t hold an historic presidential election every day, but it’s a nice sweetener for a bitter industry story.

Here’s just one example of how the day is shaping up: The New York Times is printing an extra 50,000 copies of today’s paper for the local market after completely selling out, according to spokeswoman Catherine Mathis. (See the Romenesko journalism blog for more details about heavy press runs at other U.S. newspapers.)

Here’s more from Mathis:

We increased our print run for single copy by about 35% but know first hand that some vending machines and newsstands are selling out. … In 2004 we saw an increase in sales of around 50,000 copies the day after the election and based on what we’ve seen today, we expect to significantly surpass those sales.  We also plan to increase our print run for single copy sales tomorrow, although not as much as today.

The Washington Post sent out a press release saying that it increased copies available for sale at retail locations and newsboxes by 30 percent, but sold within hours.

And here’s an UPDATE: When’s the last time you saw an afternoon edition of the New York Daily News? From CEO Marc Kramer: We are happy to report that in addition to extra printed copies of our regular morning edition, which flew off newsstands, we have also printed and are distributing an updated second edition of the Daily News which will be available as early as noon today.

Here’s what else we’re hearing from colleagues, relatives and friends:

New York City: Friends saying it’s impossible to find the Times. Who says print is dead?

New York City: My wife just called after failing to buy the NYT in Park Slope, then Grand Central Station, and news booths in Midtown. Desperate to get one.

Chicago: I train into Chicago’s Union Station and I saw long lines at the newsstand there with a number of people buying five or more Chicago Tribunes or Sun-Times.

Westchester County, New York: The New York Daily News and Post were down to the last two or three copies at the waning moments of rush hour at 9a.m. Same with USA Today. The New York Times was sold out. I got a request from my brother-in-law in Georgia to grab copies of every local paper for him. I tried.

Washington, DC: The Washington Post had sold out at Friendship Heights metro cafe by 8:30 and was also sold out of all the little blue boxes around Foggy Bottom Metro stop.

Los Angeles: [At a 7-Eleven in Burbank,] they had eight Los Angeles Times left.  The clerk said someone came in and bought 13 papers. The Starbucks in Burbank sold out of papers.

Meanwhile, a cursory examination of eBay reveals a copy of today’s Times with a “buy-it-now” price of $19.99.

What are you seeing out there around the country? Are you having trouble finding your paper today?

(Photo: David Cook, an agent in the entertainment industry, looks at empty newspaper racks as he attempts to buy copies of the Los Angeles Times newspaper at the World Book & News newsstand in Hollywod, California, November 5, 2008. Cook has been to six locations attempting to buy newspapers with election day results. This newsstand sold out most of its papers one hour after they arrived in the early morning hours. REUTERS/Fred Prouser )


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GWU Thurston Hall by 7:00 pm all of the Washington posts were gone,luckily i was able to get the express and examiner, i have about 19 copies!!!great gifts

Posted by Caroline | Report as abusive

The Dallas Morning News sold out its overrun of 35 thousand and has restarted its presses to meet demand. At lunchtime, people lined up outside the door at the DMN offices to purchase a paper.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

The local papers in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia each had sold out of papers as well! Both papers, The Daily Press and The Virginian Pilot had to print an additional 15,000 copies to restock the stores that had run out. What an awesome day this is for newspapers around the nation!!

Posted by Netta | Report as abusive

For people who were looking for the NY Times and unable to find it (I went on a 2-hour bike ride and struck out at 30 different locations), you might want to check into the Times back-print service: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/ help/backcopies.html

They’ll print up new copies of any issue within the last 90 days and mail it to you. Sure beats waiting around to beg your paper delivery person…

Posted by JS | Report as abusive

In Los Angeles, California, I spent from 8:00am to 10:00 am going to convenience stores, grocery stores, and news stands looking for today’s newspaper before finally finding a copy in a newstand in front of a fast food place.

Posted by Traci | Report as abusive

[…] we’re seeing several reports of newspapers across the United States printing extra copies of today’s paper, sure to be a […]

Posted by Economic stiumlation, one industry at a time « THE SAME ROWDY CROWD | Report as abusive

President Barack Obama will be a continuing source of excitement in newspapers around the world as he soon becomes leader of the free world.

Posted by Sheldon | Report as abusive

“We believe obama can change this current world crisis into a new opportunity with a new deal for a new world. I am sure the world leaders will work with leadership of President Obama to drive this new deal for the benefit of everyone in the world.”

RK Menon

Posted by Menon | Report as abusive

At this historic moment of presidential election of the US,whence an African by origin will lead a great nation in the world,is hottest news indeed. Such a big event,would be appeared as ‘hot-favourite’news in any media concern.Particularly,the press i.e.newspaper concerns are avidly engaged in preparing report very nicely as to disseminate the same to their favourite readers,who are news hungry enormously. Though,the result which is already known by everyone with the aid of different electronic media concern,yet they all, would need more informations in abundantly.Such flooded informations in diverse taking with the election and Barack Obama,can only be provided by the newspapers. So,the newspapers of different concerns will be demanded by each news hungry reader.Every newspaper concern would be able to boost its sale definitely today in high. Particularly,big newspaper house like the The Newyork Times,Washington Post will experience huge demands for their papers today at least. Obama is today’s hot news,which is attractive as well as supportative to every newspaper to grab their crazy readers.

Posted by Pranab Hazra | Report as abusive

Right, it’s not going to change anything long-term. Subscribership for the NYT will continue to plummet because of their complete lack of objectivity. What a worthless rag.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

I live in NY and went to over 40 locations or more and could not find one paper all before noon. I was shocked. Today I got up extremely early to hit the newstands and was not too impressed with the covers, however, I found the best print ever of Amsterdam News. I have NEVER bought a copy in my life until today. The cover is a very glossy Obama. Just spectacular. I got about 8 copies to give to friends. What a day!

Posted by mitch | Report as abusive

I would like to purchase copies of various newspapers for Nov. 5th,2008. How can I do this?

Posted by carol nugue | Report as abusive