Obama Good For Newspaper Sales
My office overlooks the Washington Post building and my parking garage is directly across the street from the entrance to the WaPo offices. A curious sight greeted me as I left for home yesterday evening: A large crowd of people lined up to get a copy of the OBAMA MAKES HISTORY commemorative edition of the paper.
The paper files it on A26 of today’s edition under “Newspapers Sell Like Hotcakes as People Seek Mementos.”
In this Twittering, podcasting digital age, the morning after America’s presidential election found thousands of people clamoring for something more old-fashioned and tangible: extra copies of the morning paper.
“You can’t put a computer screen into a scrapbook,” said Joyce Mutcherson-Ridley, 56, an office manager who came to The Washington Post’s 15th Street NW headquarters only to learn that the paper’s first printing, reporting the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first black president, had sold out by 11 a.m.
The scenario was repeated from coast to coast as newspapers found themselves scrambling to meet unparalleled demand. Some newsstands were cleaned out before dawn. A few papers made it onto eBay (as much as $100 a copy, with the bidding still going) or Craigslist ($50, “still in plastic bag”). And some were rolled out in additional batches all day, sold to folks in lines that snaked down blocks and around buildings.
People who stayed up late, bleary-eyed from television or online page clicking, woke up needing something to touch. They sought physical proof that it wasn’t all just a dream from a computer monitor’s blue glow.
“You can’t show your children your BlackBerry or your computer screen,” said Merwyn Scott, 39, a lobbyist who carefully covered his newspapers in plastic wrap against the drizzle after waiting in line outside The Post for more than an hour. “In 30 years, my children will be able to touch and feel these papers when I tell them all about this historic day.”
For the rest of us, there are PDFs.
But no wonder the media were rooting for Obama! No way John McCain would have inspired people to stand in line to buy papers headlined “ANOTHER WHITE GUY ELECTED PRESIDENT.”