Richard Prince's Journal-isms™

The Day All Papers Were Sold Out

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

For History, Only a Hold-in-Your-Hand Keepsake Will Do

The Washington Post published a one-section 'Commemorative Edition' after selling out its run. (Photos by Wendy Galietta/Washington Post)Even some journalists couldn't get copies of newspapers Wednesday as millions of people snapped up as keepsakes the historic headlines declaring Barack Obama the nation's first African American president-elect.

"I got in about an hour ago after spending, total, about three hours trying to buy today's Post. It's almost as wild a phenomenon as the election itself," David Steele told colleagues in the Sports Task Force of the National Association of Black Journalists.

"The last thing I heard before coming home was that people might try going through recycling piles tonight and tomorrow, in case someone tossed it on purpose or by mistake," wrote Steele, a sports columnist at the Baltimore Sun.

"Finding a copy of the paper took on a life of its own. People went from sharing standing-on-voting-lines stories to election-reaction stories to tracking-down-the-Post stories."

As Presstime, a publication of the Newspaper Association of America, the newspaper publishers trade association, reported, "While many newspapers increased their press runs for an expected surge in single-copy sales, some discovered they really underestimated just how big the demand would be. As a result, they restarted the presses to produce more copies or published extra editions at mid-day."

Some stood in line outside the Washington Post building for more than an hour to secure a copy. More are being printed."By Wednesday night, there was still a line of dozens wrapped around the New York Times building with people waiting to grab one of the 275,000 extra copies that the Times printed in an effort to keep up with demand. They are selling the newspapers at the paper's headquarters at 41st and Eighth Avenue, and people have been waiting in line for hours to nab one," New York's WCBS-TV reported.

"It is literally a New York Times bestseller."

"'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," Petula Dvorak reported in Thursday's Washington Post. "In 30 years, my children will be able to touch and feel these papers when I tell them all about this historic day," Scott said in that story. In response to demand, the Post published 150,000 copies of a commemorative edition that hit the street by Wednesday afternoon.  On Thursday, the Post said it would undertake still another printing, this one of 350,000.

The competing Washington Times wrapped in a 10-page commemorative section into Thursday's paper that included Wednesday's front page.

In Virginia, Denise Bridges of the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk told Journal-isms, "I just came back from the lobby, and I can't tell you how excited I am to see BLACK PEOPLE lined up trying to buy our newspaper!

"We keep talking about how newspapers are in such a state of decline, but a day like today proves our value. It also proves that the black community is an important part of our readership demographic," said Bridges, director of newsroom recruitment and staff development and a Maynard program graduate. Her newspaper announced on Thursday it was printing 40,000 more copies. 

People of all races were snapping up copies, but there was no doubt that African Americans had a special interest in documenting this history. Many purchased multiple copies to give to children and grandchildren.

Vernetta Walker, service clerk at a Walgreens in Trotwood, Ohio, recalled for Kelli Wynn of the Dayton Daily News that when she was a little girl, her grandfather, who was a black man in his 70s and a native of Georgia, would not vote. She said her grandfather used to tell her, "You know what they do to black people's vote? They make toilet paper out of them."

National Public Radio quoted a man who said people were going to hotels and stealing guests' copies from in front of their doors.

USA Today, a big customer of those hotels, "printed 380,000 additional copies of the newspaper for Nov 5, totaling 2.8 million copies nationally," spokeswoman Alexandra Nicholson told Journal-isms. "We've received word that USA TODAY is sold out across the country and in response we are printing an overrun to be available for purchase at An image version of the front page will also be available for download at"

"In Chicago, where Obama appeared in Grant Park after sealing the election, the Chicago Tribune initially boosted its Wednesday press run, typically 700,000 papers, by just 20,000, according to published reports. By Wednesday morning, it had printed another 200,000," Presstime reported.

"In Atlanta, the Journal-Constitution almost doubled the normal number of papers printed for single-copy sales to 90,000. Another 100,000 were printed later Wednesday. An additional 5,500 copies were sold at the newspaper building. 'Demand continues to be strong and we already are planning expanded distribution for our special commemorative edition this coming Sunday,' said Bob Eickoff, senior vice president for operations.

"Even smaller markets saw a surge. The Daily Press in Newport News, Va., upped its press run by 25 percent to meet expected high demand. By early morning, copies were sold out. At 9 a.m., Publisher Digby Solomon ordered an extra-edition second run of 15,000 copies. 'We anticipated some additional demand, but this was a historic election and we completely underestimated it,' Solomon said. 'It shows that when something truly historic takes place, people want a printed record of it,'" the Presstime piece continued. 

Steele finally found a paper at a 7-Eleven in Laurel, Md. "There was a line going to the back of the store. People were running from their cars to get on it. I got one there, at about 8:45 p.m. There were about five left when I got mine," he told Journal-isms on Thursday.

 "Final thought," he told his sportswriting colleagues. "I'm thinking this wouldn't be happening if McCain had won."

White House Could See More Diverse Press Corps

"As news organizations put the finishing touches on their White House teams and black-oriented publications look to ramp up their coverage of the first black president, that dynamic is poised to reverse," Michael Calderone reported Thursday for Politico.

"While The New York Times has yet to announce its White House team, sources tell Politico that it will include Liberian-born journalist Helene Cooper, previously a diplomatic correspondent. Cooper has something in common with the president-elect — her own highly acclaimed memoir delving into her familial ties in Africa, published earlier this year.

"Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet said he's chosen a team but declined to comment until there's a formal announcement.

"On Monday, Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli announced the paper's four-person White House team, which includes African-American Michael Fletcher, who covered the Bush administration for three years before shifting to the economics beat.

". . . Bryan Monroe, editorial director of Ebony and Jet magazines, said that although his publications have maintained a presence in D.C. for years, including a small bureau just a block from the White House, they will focus more on the 44th president than they have on past administrations. 'There wasn't a lot of attention to African-Americans in the Bush administration,' he said, 'or working for the issues that matter to black folks.'"

. . . NABJ Leader: Time for Historic Moves by Media

Barbara Ciara with Barack Obama at last year's convention of the National Association of Black Journalists. (Credit: NABJ)"If the country ever needed the unique perspective and expertise of journalists of color, it is now," Barbara Ciara, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said in a statement Thursday.

"Not just in the coverage of the presidency, but also on issues such as immigration, housing, predatory lending, the impact of the economic collapse in our communities, the Iraq War, the war on poverty and education.

"Further, as this country moves deeper into the 21st Century, issues of race and culture are sure to abound, and who better to tell those stories than the people who’ve lived them all their lives?

"But our business is in trouble when it comes to the numbers of minorities in the nation’s newsrooms.

"To date, not one black journalist hosts a Sunday morning or daily news and commentary show on the major cable and television networks. There are no African American executive producers at network newscasts and shows such as Today, Good Morning America and the CBS Early Show, and minorities account for 11.4 percent of all supervisors in newsrooms. These statistics are particularly important because it reflects who makes newsroom assignments and decides what news is worth covering.

"If change is the result of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, then it’s time for readers and viewers to demand that media companies’ provide balanced coverage by a diverse group of journalists, from the White House press corps onward.

"If Tuesday’s election is the nation’s mandate for change, perhaps it’s time now for the news media to do something truly historic too."

Time, Newsweek Rush Out Post-Election Editions

Newsweek beat Time in publishing a commemorative issue on the election, making some of its material available online on Wednesday. Time was to go on newsstands a day early, on Thursday. Each newsmagazine analyzes how and why Barack Obama won the presidency.

As it has after previous elections, Newsweek produced an "in-depth look behind the scenes of the campaign," this one a seven-parter "consisting of exclusive behind-the-scenes reporting from the [John] McCain and Obama camps assembled by a special team of reporters who were granted year-long access on the condition that none of their findings appear until after Election Day."

Among the Newsweek revelations:

  • "The Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. 'Why would they try to make people hate us?' Michelle asked a top campaign aide.
  • "McCain also was reluctant to use Obama's incendiary pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as a campaign issue. The Republican had set firm boundaries: no Jeremiah Wright; no attacking Michelle Obama; no attacking Obama for not serving in the military. McCain balked at an ad using images of children that suggested that Obama might not protect them from terrorism."¬† Steve¬†Schmidt, who ran McCain's day-to-day campaign,¬†"vetoed ads suggesting that Obama was soft on crime (no Willie Hortons). And before word even got to McCain, Schmidt" and senior campaign aide Mark Salter "scuttled a 'celebrity' ad of Obama dancing with talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres (the sight of a black man dancing with a lesbian was deemed too provocative).
  • "On the night she officially lost the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a long and friendly phone conversation with McCain. Clinton was actually on better terms with McCain than she was with Obama. Clinton and McCain had downed shots together on Senate junkets; they regarded each other as grizzled veterans of the political wars and shared a certain disdain for Obama as flashy and callow."
From a Time news release:
  • "In her cover story, TIME‚Äôs Nancy Gibbs writes, 'Barack Hussein Obama did not win because of the color of his skin. Nor did he win in spite of it. He won because at a very dangerous moment in the life of a still young country, more people than have ever spoken before came together to try to save it. And that was a victory all its own.'
  • "Obama pollster Joel Benenson tells TIME‚Äôs Amy Sullivan, 'The notion that voters who supported Senator Clinton would vote Republican in the general election was never supported by what we saw in our polling. At the beginning of June, going into the general election, Obama had a double-digit lead in our battleground poll against McCain among women. He was competitive among Catholics and led 2 to 1 among Latinos. The press corps had focused on all these groups in the last three months of the primary and was convinced that they would pose problems for us in the general. But that just wasn‚Äôt true, and we recognized that early on. As a result, we were able to focus on swing voters instead of worrying about parts of the base that were already with us. We looked at groups where Obama could make gains and at places where he could broaden the map.‚Äù
Jet magazine's post-election issue, which it bills as a "special collector's edition," goes on sale on Monday.

Obama's Own Analysis: "Bitter" Was Worst Mistake

The stock of CBS News anchor Katie Couric rose during the campaign after she began her interviews of the candidates, and on Monday CBS ran an Couric interview with Sen. Barack Obama in which he was asked the biggest mistake of the campaign.

"Well, I think it was . . . that bitter comment in the fundraiser," he said, "only because as the irony was that what I was trying to describe was that Democrats hadn't reached out to people and had allowed themselves to get trapped in these, you know, social wedge issues and divisions. And it ended up being Exhibit A of Democrats saying something that made people feel like they were being insulted. And I think it was . . . it was a stupid mistake on my part. And, but, you know what? Over the course of two years, you know, hopefully you get better over time.

Couric then asked, "What did the McCain team do in the course of this campaign that made you the angriest?"

Obama: "You know, I think that, you know . . . a lot of the stuff that has made me angry hasn't directly come from the McCain campaign. I mean, I do think that . . .  there is a Republican or right-wing media outlet –set of media outlets – that went after my wife for a while in a way that I thought was just completely out of bounds. And I, you know, frankly I, you know, I would have never considered or expected my allies to do something comparable to the spouse of an opponent. I just feel like family are civilians. And they don't sign up for this stuff. They support … their spouse. But generally, you know, they're really should be bystanders in this process, even if they're campaigning for you. You know, they're saying nice things about their in this case, their husbands. I mean, that's what you expect. And that doesn't make them suddenly targets."

Couric: "If things go your way on Tuesday and you become this nation's first African American president, what does that mean to you personally?"

Obama: "There are times when you're shaking hands after a rally and you look out over the crowd and people are telling their stories. I lost my job or my wife has ovarian cancer but she's out there campaigning for you. Or you know, my son for the first time has decided that he really wants to apply himself in school because he was inspired by what you're doing.

"You hear those stories and, you know, you feel an enormous sense of obligation and responsibility to really just work your heart out for folks because they're investing a lot. Obviously there's a historic dimension – you know when a 90-year old African American woman just grabs my hand and won't let go and says you know 'I'm so proud.' You know, you think about what an African American woman's gone through over the course of her 90-year life, and that will move me. But it's not just a sense of the history made because of race. There is also just this overwhelming feeling of humility and gratitude where you say 'Boy, I really . . . better come through for folks if I win this thing because they really need it.'" 

Hispanics Voted Democratic by More Than 2 to 1

"Hispanics voted for Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden over Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin by a margin of more than two-to-one in the 2008 presidential election, 66% versus 32%, according to an analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of exit polls from Edison Media Research as published by CNN," Mark Hugo Lopez, associate director of the Center, wrote on Wednesday.

"The Center's analysis also finds that 8% of the electorate was Latino, unchanged from 2004. This report contains an analysis of exit poll results for the Latino vote in 9 states and for the U.S."

No "Bradley Effect," but Whites Favored McCain

Veteran journalist Bill Moyers, who served as President Lyndon Johnson's press secretary, was asked by National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" host Terry Gross on Wednesday about what Sen. Barack Obama's election says about changes in racial attitudes.

"You've described how, after President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, you came upon him in a private moment, and you looked disconsolate," Gross said. "And he said to you, 'now, we've lost the South.' And so has that been reversed now?"

"No, it hasn't," Moyers replied. "If you look at the colored map of the election last night, the Republican Party's base is still the deeply racist states south of the Mason-Dixon Line -- from South Carolina across to Arkansas. Those states have not changed in all these years. That's one of the other tragedies of American life, is that the racist-saturated mentality of those deep Southern states, stemming from slavery and reconstruction and Jim Crow, remain in place.

"I mean, Obama only got the votes of one out of every six white people in Mississippi, I think. So it's a sad and melancholic commentary on the root of prejudice, that the South remains below the Mason-Dixon Line and, of course, with the exception of North Carolina and Virginia, in the grip of those old passions and old . . . prejudices. The rest of the nation's moved along.

"This is a great mistake the Republican Party has made. I figured this was coming, Terry, honestly, when I watched that Republican convention in St. Paul because I think there were only 34, if I remember correctly, only 34 people of color in that convention. And I thought, they don't understand how this country has changed, even in the last 10 years."

According to exit polls, overall, whites preferred John McCain over Obama 55 percent to 43 percent, an improvement for Obama on John Kerry's 17-percentage-point shortfall in 2004. "In exit polls dating to 1972, Democrats have never carried a majority of the white vote," Alan Fram reported for the Associated Press.

"Whites who backed Obama tended to be urban residents, Easterners, Iraq war foes and people without guns," Fram's story continued. 

McCain backers were "veterans, gun owners, white born again and evangelical Christians, and rural and small town residents — groups that usually support Republicans. He also prevailed among white Catholics, a frequent swing group."

Many observers pronounced the end of the "Bradley Effect," described in a Boston Globe editorial as "the hypothesized tendency of white voters to hide their opposition to black candidates."

Looking at swing states, Glenn Greenwald of found that, "With two exceptions (Nevada and New Mexico), the polls were extremely accurate in predicting the ultimate results. And in all 10 swing states, Obama outperformed what the final polls predicted, meaning that there ended up being a better result in counted votes for Obama than the polls anticipated."

BET Goes All-Obama on Day After Election

BET Networks, in an unprecedented move, suspended regular programming Wednesday and filled its schedule with inspirational speeches by Barack Obama, live news coverage, viewer call-ins, celebrity drop-ins and similar programming. Scheduled were celebrity guests Russell Simmons, Cedric The Entertainer, Kerry Washington, Jurnee Smollett, Hill Harper, BET political analyst Keith Boykin, political pundits Keli Goff and Angela McGlowan, and New York Times editor Marcus Mabry, as well as Obama campaign members.

“This is the most historic moment in my lifetime, in my children’s lifetimes, in many of our viewers’ lifetimes,” said Debra L. Lee, chairman and chief executive officer, BET Networks, in a news release.

“There will be a Black family in the White House, and that’s a testament to and a reflection on those who have fought the good fight before us. It’s a celebration of everyone, everywhere – black, white, brown, male, female, straight, gay – who banded together, made their voices heard, and voted for change. This election and President-elect Barack Obama have shown me not only the great progress that we’ve made but also have given me hope and inspiration for how much more we can accomplish together. I’m so proud of everything BET Networks has done and is doing to encourage our audience to participate in this political process, and I’m so proud of the impact we’ve had.”

Oakland Police Deny Chauncey Bailey Probe Is Flawed

"Police say the probe of journalist Chauncey Bailey’s 2007 killing isn’t flawed and that the case’s lead detective, Sgt. Derwin Longmire, didn’t interfere in other felony cases involving its key suspect, even as an internal affairs investigation of him continues," Thomas Peele, Bob Butler and Mary Fricker reported Monday for the Chauncey Bailey Project.

"The Oakland Police Department statement, released during the weekend in reaction to reporting by the Chauncey Bailey Project, also officially acknowledges for the first time that police believe Yusuf Bey IV, the leader of the now defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery, was involved in Bailey’s killing.

"The only person charged in the Aug. 2, 2007, killing is Devaughndre Broussard, a bakery handyman. Bey IV is jailed on unrelated charges.

"The Chauncey Bailey Project stands behind the stories it published and broadcast the week of Oct. 26 about Longmire’s handling of the investigation, its executive editor, Robert J. Rosenthal, said Monday."

After Bailey, an editor at the Oakland Post in California, was assassinated last year, a number of news organizations converged as the Chauncey Bailey Project to continue his work.

Short Takes

  • Peter Madrid, who was laid off in 2006 from the Arizona Republic after 25 years with Gannett Co., has become senior editor of Latino Perspectives magazine, based in Phoenix. A few weeks after his Arizona Republic layoff, he went to¬†work as a copy editor with the East Valley Tribune, a Freedom Communications publication based in Mesa, Ariz. "On May 7 of this year, I was called to a meeting with the editor and ‚Ķ. (gulp, you know what this means) . . . ¬†the human resources director. Yup. Laid off again," Madrid, a 1985 graduate of the Maynard Institute's Editing Program for Minority Journalists, told Journal-isms.

  • Andrea Georgsson, the only African American editorial writer at the Houston Chronicle, left the paper Wednesday after being at the paper since 1987 and a member of the editorial board since 1995. "It was my own decision," Georgsson told Journal-isms. "I'm going to just follow my bliss," Georgsson, 44, said. She said she¬†has three little boys to take care of and¬†may do volunteer work.

  • The Orange County, Calif.-based O.C. Weekly¬†named Hao-Nhien Vu, longtime managing editor of the nation's largest daily Vietnamese newspaper, Little Saigon-based Nguoi Viet, as "Best Fired Journalist." It said, "Earlier this year, the paper faced protesters incensed that it had published a photograph that contained what they (bizarrely) felt was a disrespectful reference to the flag of South Vietnam, a country that hasn't existed since April 30, 1975. In response, the paper's ownership made Vu the sacrificial lamb, firing him. Instead of whining, Vu accepted his fate and quickly created the best new English-language journalistic blog in OC: The blog offers readers solid original reporting, witty commentary or simply highlights other articles relating to all things Vietnamese-American."

  • "From ethnic slaughters in Armenia to the Holocaust to systematic terror and violence in Cambodia, Rwanda, Iraq and Darfur, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour reports on the recurring nightmare of genocide and the largely unknown struggles of the heroes who witnessed evil ‚Äì and 'screamed bloody murder' for the international community to stop it," CNN announced. "As the 60th anniversary of the United Nations‚Äô Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide approaches, a new two-hour documentary, CNN Presents: Scream Bloody Murder, will premiere on Thursday, Dec. 4, at 9 p.m. and replay at midnight. (ET)."

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Misleading Headline Above

Your headline, "No "Bradley Effect," but Whites Favored McCain" misleads readers--even though the text makes it clear that Southern whites largely voted for John McCain. Fact is, Obama would not have won if large numbers of whites hadn't backed him. Doesn't that reality deserve to be communicated instead of hidden? Please be specific about which whites didn't vote for Obama. In this time, specificity matters. Also, please allow for the fact that some of them may not have voted for him for reasons other than his race. Thank you, Carla

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