The Power of the Paper

November 6th, 2008

Although newspaper sales have been on the decline and layoffs have taken place at news outlets around the country, it’s not time to write off the power of the paper just yet. Yesterday, newspapers were not only in sizzling demand, they were downright hard to find. Tuesday’s historic election of Barack Obama made newspapers America’s hot ticket item as people raced to buy and preserve their piece of history. In fact, copies of the New York Times completely sold out in Manhattan, putting people into such a frenzy they actually lined up at the paper’s NYC headquarters to buy their copies. They were going on eBay for as much as $600! And one person was asking $2,000 for a copy of Wednesday’s Charlotte Observer. Two grand!

What’s more is the New York Times wasn’t the only paper people raced to get their hands on. From the Dallas Morning News to the Philadelphia Inquirer, sales demand was high and printers struggled to keep up with supply. The Washington Post, which usually sells about 100,000 papers in a single day, ended up printing and selling 300,000 papers by the end of the day on Wednesday. The Chicago Tribune also sold about 200,000 additional copies. Memphis’ The Commercial Appeal sold so many copies that they have announced plans to sell t-shirts featuring the image of Wednesday’s paper and framed reprints of the front page.

Maybe the election signaled that change is not only coming to a struggling America amidst a deep financial crisis, but also to a besieged industry that continues to lose more steam as time goes on. In this 24/7 news cycle where we get the majority of our news from websites over our laptops and BlackBerry’s, we forget about the power newspapers hold, not just in documenting the news, but our culture, and ultimately, the life changing events that mold our future. When something of great significance happens, everyone wants that tangible piece of history, that one thing they can keep to show the generations to come: the newspaper.

Posted Under: Media & Journalism
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