In those pretelevision days newspapers were the primary source of news, and when something important happened--a war, a plane crash, a ship sinking, or a natural disaster--the competition among them was fierce. Today few cities support more than two newspapers, usually a morning and an evening paper, and often they share the same advertising and circulation staffs and are printed on the same presses. Only the news departments are totally separate.
The extra editions were therefore very important, and the newspapers raced to be the first on the street with them. All over America that Sunday afternoon these extras were being feverishly assembled in newsrooms by skeleton staffs. Most newspapermen hurried to the office as soon as they heard the news, much as military men rushed back to the base.
One of the proudest newspaper staffs was that of the Chicago Sun Times, which had just published its first issue on Thursday, December 4. The Sun Times hit the street at 7 P.M., beating the Tribune, the Herald American, and the other papers to the street by several minutes. Actually, the Tribune did not even print an extra edition; instead, it placed a banner, "Japan Attacks U.S.," across the top of its regular evening edition.
The Omaha World Herald got its extra edition on the street at about 4:45 P.M. and sold all 19,200 papers in a few minutes. The St. Louis Globe Democrat put out two extras, the second with an odd banner headline: MANILA QUIT. Some people may have considered it prophetic, but it was a typographical error. It should have read: MANILA QUIET.