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Sales not as heavy as the coverage.

Papers roll out 'special' forces

After planning for months to cover the expected war with Iraq, U.S. newspapers responded to the invasion with lavish coverage and special sections, but failed early on to get the huge single-copy-sales boost many had predicted. At least four dailies -- the New York Daily News, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, the Tribune-Review in Greensburg, Pa., and the San Francisco Chronicle -- published extra editions, with late- breaking coverage of the attack on Iraq.

The all-out effort was made in every region. The Dallas Morning News offered special war sections, adding six pages Thursday and eight Friday.

The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, one of many dailies near major military bases, added eight pages daily for coverage. According to military-team leader Carl Fincke, the paper has about half its news staff covering aspects of this war. The paper plans to insert a glossy replica of the American flag in one issue this week -- and give away 50,000 miniature Eagles that can be stuck to windows.

For the Los Angeles Times, war coverage spread across 19 pages Thursday. The paper also printed 120,000 more newsstand copies, according to spokeswoman Martha Goldstein. The Washington Post added four pages to its regular paper on Thursday and six on Friday. Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. said the expanded news hole was possible due to tighter controls on space during less-newsy times. The paper boosted its press run by 50,000 copies both days. Downie said a special section planned for last Sunday will continue on a daily basis for the duration of the war.

The New York Times, which published the award-winning "A Nation Challenged" section for months following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, revived the approach Friday with "A Nation at War." The Times boosted its press run by about 195,000 copies Thursday, and by nearly 400,000 Friday.

The increased press runs did not bring the complete sell-outs that some circulation directors had expected. Melville, N.Y.-based Newsday, which boosted its single-copy run by 20,000 Thursday, reported that only about half the additional copies sold. "It was not 9/11 sales," said Robert Brennan, vice president for circulation. The Dallas Morning News had a similar experience, with about 60% of its Thursday press-run increase being sold, according to Rocky Swartz, circulation director/operations. "They were not selling like the hotcakes we had anticipated," he said.

As for extra editions, the New York Daily News hit the streets Thursday afternoon with a 32-page paper offering war news and some sports information. About 100,000 copies of the extra edition were printed for distribution at newsstands, in news racks, and by hawkers. The Daily News had boosted the press run of its regular Thursday issue by 100,000 copies.

The San Francisco Chronicle, meanwhile, published a 16-page extra edition Thursday afternoon, with 50,000 copies priced at 25 cents apiece. The extra was prompted by coverage of both the war and local antiwar protests that resulted in hundreds of arrests. The Chronicle also boosted the press runs for its Thursday regular issue by 40,000, and printed an additional 50,000 copies of Friday's paper.

The Boston Globe launched a separate, eight-page, ad-free section with Iraq news. Editor Martin Baron said it would continue as the war went on. The Wall Street Journal added four extra pages to its Thursday edition, according to Deputy Managing Editor Byron E. "Barney" Calame, but the paper ran no special sections or extras (though it went with an exceedingly rare banner head).

"We are making space arrangements as we go," Calame said. "We will make decisions night by night, day by day. We have the flexibility to call an audible at the line of scrimmage."
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Author:Strupp, Joe
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Mar 24, 2003
Words:625
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