WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It was a good day to be in the newspaper business. The historic November 5 editions proclaiming Barack Obama’s White House victory flew off the newsstands and major newspapers struggled to keep up with the demand for copies.
Those who didn’t rise early enough or who lacked the foresight to keep up their subscriptions to the print editions could find them online, but at a steep price. By early on Wednesday evening, nearly 800 sellers offered copies for sale on eBay.
Print newspapers have seen declining readership in recent years, forcing newsroom cutbacks, as more readers turn to Internet sources for news. But on such a historic occasion, traditional newspapers had their day.
“This kind of demand for our newspapers is unlike anything we’ve experienced in recent history,” Tribune Co Chief Operating Officer Randy Michaels said in a statement.
“This is a clear demonstration that people continue turning to their local newspaper to help them understand and interpret the news of the day, and that is especially true when big events happen,” he said.
The New York Times and The Washington Post put out special commemorative editions when readers clamored for more — there just weren’t enough to go around.
Newspapers in San Francisco, Denver and Chicago reported selling out and also printed special editions. Thousands of extra copies were printed in Baltimore, Hartford, Connecticut, and Orlando, Florida.
Bids on eBay for The New York Times with its banner headline “Obama” were up to $400 by early Wednesday evening. The Washington Post’s “Obama Makes History” edition was bid up to $41.
Obama’s hometown papers the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times were offered together on eBay at a comparative bargain price of $50. The Tribune featured a nearly full-page color photo of Obama with the headline “Obama, Our Next President” and the Sun-Times showed a full-page photograph of Obama that said simply “Mr. President.”
“It’s Obama,” proclaimed the Los Angeles Times, which decided to keep its presses running to meet demand from the steady stream of people who came to its offices to buy papers. It printed at least 100,000 extra copies. Still, it was offered in one eBay auction for $40.
One optimistic seller offered immediate purchase of The Charlotte Observer of Charlotte, North Carolina, for $2,000.
Reporting by Jackie Frank; Editing by Peter Cooney