Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Publishers and Editors Put Forth 'Extra' Effort

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Publishers and Editors Put Forth 'Extra' Effort

Article excerpt

Executives call for whatever it takes to thoroughly and accurately cover Sept. 11 horror and its aftermath

Newspapers across the United States responded to the recent terror attacks by pumping out extras, increasing news holes, boosting press runs, and generally doing whatever it takes to get the story -- and get it right.

While advertising is mostly down and the bottom line is a pervasive concern, leaders of both newspapers and newspaper companies told E&P that they are more worried about coverage right now.

"This is a story that demands excellence in coverage, and you're going to give your journalists what they need to do it," said Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times Co. and publisher of The New York Times. He acknowledged advertising cancellations this month alone will likely cost his flagship paper millions of dollars. "It's made a dreadful financial year more dreadful. But who cares?"

Knight Ridder Chairman and CEO Tony Ridder issued a memo that calls for quality journalism. "Please leave no stone unturned in pursuing this story. Do the right thing by readers," Ridder wrote to the executives of his company's papers.

Knight Ridder spokeswoman Lee Ann Schlatter said there are no financial constraints on the chain's papers in covering the tragedy, a sentiment echoed by Robert Hall, publisher of Knight Ridder's Philadelphia Inquirer. "Since we are newspapers first, the focus has been on the news," Hall said. "I think the business side has taken a back seat, at least during this tragedy, because that's what we're all about."

Gannett Co. Inc. has issued no edicts on editorial spending, spokeswoman Tara Connell said. "We don't order the local papers to do one thing or another. ... Gannett really does give its newspapers autonomy."

Many papers with expanded press runs found single-copy sales went through the roof. On a typical weekday afternoon, for example, Cox Newspapers Inc.'s Atlanta Journal has single-copy sales of 22,000. On Sept. 11, it sold an extra 60,000. The following day was even bigger for both the morning Atlanta Constitution and the afternoon Journal, said Publisher Roger Kintzel. "Wednesday [Sept. 12], we had a 24-page special section with no advertising except for a half-page sympathy ad from Kroger," Kintzel said. The Constitution had 130,000 additional single-copy sales and the Journal had 95,000, for a one-day net circulation increase of 225,000. And no returns. …

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