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The early edition

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by HejiraHenry, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I want to talk a bit here about early editions.

    At our 35K shop, we abandoned this practice 4 or 5 years ago. Now, we roll once, sometimes with quoteless game stories. We have some flexibility programmed into our sports deadline, which typically is 10:45 p.m. but can be as late as 11:30 (our old standard deadline) to accommodate late events.

    And in case of bad weather or high insertion demands, we will sometimes have deadlines as early as 9 p.m.

    I have always been fascinated with early (or "bulldog") editions, dating to the time in college (1977?) I bought a copy of the Sunday Chattanooga paper being hawked downtown after a Saturday night football game.

    I have been looking at early Sunday editions from Memphis for the last 3 or 4 weeks and (unknowingly) bought an early Sunday Birmingham paper yesterday. We get the early Jackson (Miss.) paper in our office each day.

    I'll get into some general and specific critiques of some of those papers at a later moment, but I was interested in putting that general topic out there right now.

    I will say, the Birmingham "early edition" was purchased within sight of downtown from a convenience store at 10 a.m. on a Sunday and I regard that as a particular sort of failure. Perhaps only home delivery gets the update, I do not know. I found that to be quite peculiar, but others tell me they have had the same experience.
  2. PaperDoll

    PaperDoll Well-Known Member

    I remember marveling at being able to get Sunday's New York Times on a newsstand after dinner on Saturday when I was a kid. I don't think the implications for actual news really occurred to me.

    The first paper where I worked had multiple zones. There was one part of the sprawling coverage area where Thursday did not exist, because that edition went from the earliest deadline on Thursday night (which, if I recall correctly, was about 7 p.m.) to the latest over the weekend.

    Now, we've got one paper and if you miss the deadline, your story will be online-only (which really ought to be pitched as "a web exclusive!") because nothing makes deadline push back -- not a high school state championship, not the Super Bowl. There's plenty of stuff, mostly weather-related, which can move it earlier though.
  3. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    On the opposite end...

    As a news-hungry eight year old I once burst into tears and went crying to my mama when I saw the Nashville Banner at the newstand had a big "FINAL" stamped in red on it. She quickly assured me I needn't worry, the paper wasn't going out of business, I had just seen the last edition of several for the day.

    Sadly, of course it turns out my instinct was correct, but I was about 15 years premature.
  4. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I have the final final in a box someplace.
  5. Kato

    Kato Active Member

    Now that we're on a hub design system, we have to get everything in as early as possible. That basically means one "late" page, often with a 10:30 p.m. deadline -- 10:45 p.m. if we're lucky (sometimes depends on who's designing our pages, how many other papers they're working on and how behind they might be!).

    That means any game that finishes after 10 p.m. likely means a no-quote story or even a partial for the print edition and a re-write for the web.

    We've been told we want make the print edition still important to readers, but we keep giving them less. This doesn't just affect our local coverage. Those deadlines make it almost impossible to get in much for state-wide pro sports. Getting more than the AP NewsNow briefs in will be tough and getting the optional isn't even an option.

    It's getting tough to put out a quality print edition.
  6. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    There's nothing quite like working a 25" MLB gamer with a headline, a deck hed, two subheds, a jump hed and three cutlines when the game ends at 10:15, the rush version of the story is filed at 10:22 and your newsroom deadline is 10:30.

    All season long, too!
  7. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I was painted into that corner on the Sunday night of the Daytona 500.
    I wound up having to add anther 100 words to the AP's 150-word quick lead to make it work.
    Always fun.
  8. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    In Miami, late 1980s and early 1990s, they started a daily bulldog edition, I guess after The Miami News closed. If you were on the rim, you and one or two other copy editors would come in at 3 p.m. and blow through 10 or 12 stories apiece by 4:15. It wasn't all wire plugger, either. There were staff stories, included some long, complex ones, and during NFL season we were getting in as many 1 p.m. games as possible for an edition that would hit the streets at 7 p.m. I think circ was about 500K daily, 600K Sunday with about 10K being the bulldog. This is not to be confused with the State edition (9 p.m.), the Palm Beach (10:15), early Broward (11), early Dade (11:30), late Broward (12:30), late Dade (1) and the Clipper (international edition) at 3ish.

    As an outsider I'd always viewed the Herald as editing nirvana, and in many ways it was because of the talent across the board and a sports editor who treated us like grownups. But some crazy things happened for the bulldog, or as they called it, "The Street." One of the best copy editors I've seen wrote a one-column hed, "Horse/Wins/Race."

    As one of the managers in sports used to say, "It's arma-fuckin-geddon."

    I was telling this story to a colleague a couple years ago and she said, "Is that why you're so fast?"

    Yes, but she should have seen me at 29-30.
  9. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Regarding the Birmingham failure, I interviewed in San Jose in 1984. They flew me in the night before, and when I awoke I grabbed a Merc and read what I could on the brief cab ride over. Had it my hands when I met John Rawlings and he quickly asked where I got that. My hotel, I said. He said you aren't supposed to get that edition two miles from the paper, that's for out (somewhere). He gets on the phone. Hours later he said, well, we found out which driver screwed that up. I thought, jeez, these Knight-Ridder guys do not fuck around.
  10. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Apparently not - he once passed up a chance to hire me. Which at the time, was probably a good call.
  11. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    I just missed the numerous editions during my time there, but the stories are legendary. But working on that desk was not for the faint of heart.
  12. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I'd meant to start this discussion a few weeks ago after buying a Commercial Appeal early edition that inexplicably appears each Sunday morning in the box in front of my breakfast spot.

    (We live about 100 miles from downtown Memphis. There appears to be two papers in the box now that I'm buying one; before, it appeared there was just the one displayed in the front of the box.)

    The Memphis paper seems curiously old-fashioned in some ways, especially the front section jammed with national news stories that just aren't that interesting.

    But if the featured event of Saturday is a night game - Grizzlies or Tigers basketball, perhaps - there's all this fill space where the gamer and Geoff Calkins column will eventually go, but no indication that I missed out on that with my hard-earned $2.

    (And no invitation to leverage my investment with a chance to read what I missed, I might add.)

    Jackson's Clarion-Ledger, by contrast, promotes the hell out of its online product. And it needs to, given that the early edition is so often lacking anything that ends after 10 p.m. or so.

    But for the e-mail addresses on the bylines, Sunday's Commercial Appeal could be a paper from 1994. No mention in the section of online extras or photo galleries or bonus content or anything.

    I'll leave the Birmingham paper for another post. I'm still thinking about it.

    And I want to talk in more detail about Jackson, and the curious effects on content that seem to be a consequence of its new USA Today supplement pages.
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