Print proves mettle

By Published on .

Newspapers and weekly magazines last week scrambled to cover the horrific events from within the confines of their own city even as they struggled to operate in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack.

Publications already dealing with a harsh economic climate rushed out special issues without ads, reduced rates for memorial messages in regular issues and saw advertisers cancel pages with images that might be deemed inappropriate in the wake of the disaster.

No news operation was affected as dramatically as Dow Jones & Co.'s The Wall Street Journal, with editorial headquarters at 200 Liberty Street, across the street from the site of the explosions. The building was evacuated soon after the first plane hit, and the newspaper's editorial staff shifted to other offices, including those in midtown Manhattan and South Brunswick, N.J., to produce the next day's-and subsequent-editions. The Sept. 12 edition appeared in two sections and was devoted almost entirely to the attacks on New York and Washington. Because of the potential for distribution disruptions,, normally a paid Web site, was made free in the days after the event.

The New York Times was able to keep the newsroom in its midtown offices in operation. It ran into distribution problems in and around Manhattan on the day after the attack, according to a spokesman. By later in the week, distribution in most areas, with the exception of downtown, had been normalized. Both the Times and Gannett Co.'s USA Today reported sales spikes. In New York, many newsstands sold out as even consumers who don't normally buy daily papers sought out information on the attacks. Both papers increased distribution to retailers to meet the demand.

A special edition of the Times, scheduled for Sept. 20 to celebrate the newspaper's 150th anniversary, has been postponed, as were events related to the anniversary scheduled for this week.

Time Inc., headquartered in the Time-Life building in Rockefeller Center, was asked by the New York Police Department to allow non-essential employees to leave early on the day of the attack since the building and its surrounding area were seen as potential targets. Both People and Time rushed out special issues. Time's hit newsstands and was mailed to subscribers Sept. 13. The cover featured an image of the explosion as one of the planes sliced into one of the towers. The only words on the cover besides the logo were the date of the attack: "September 11, 2001."

Seven million copies of the advertising-free issue were distributed to subscribers and newsstands in the U.S., with an additional 500,000 sent overseas. Time also publishes its regular issue today, with more coverage of last week's tragedy. Time Publisher Ed McCarrick said the number of copies sent to newsstands was increased. Some advertisers, notably airlines, asked to be removed from the issue, he said, while others postponed schedules. "There hasn't been a huge drain of ads coming out, and some advertisers have even requested to come in," he said, presumably to run memorial ads.

Newsweek also published a special issue, out Sept. 13, with the cover line, "America Under Attack." That issue was also free of advertising, and was distributed only on newsstands. Two million copies were distributed in the U.S. and overseas. Sales staffers examined all ads scheduled for today's issue, according to Publisher Greg Osberg, and called advertisers they assumed would want to move out of the issue. Those included airlines, life insurance companies, and any marketers that used the New York skyline in ads or used creative that might be seen as inappropriate.

Newsweek established a reduced rate for any advertisers that wanted to run memorial ads and would make that rate available for "as long as it's needed," Mr. Osberg said. He said the rate is low enough to make the newsweekly affordable even to smaller companies.

McGraw-Hill's Business Week offered a free page to any advertisers that wanted to send a message to customers or employees.

U.S. News & World Report's 54-page special issue carried no advertising, and was distributed to newsstands only. Publisher Bill Holliber said "a good percentage of advertisers are moving out of Monday's issue." That issue was to focus on a special report, "Paying for College," that has been postponed until October. Mr. Holliber, stranded in Atlanta last week after air traffic was shut down, said many advertisers he visited there talked of postponing broadcast buys as well as print schedules. "It's temporary, but there's going to be a financial impact," he said.

The Economist sent an extra 150,000 copies to newsstands in the U.S., and replaced its U.S. section with a special report on the attack. "Many advertisers pulled back," a spokesman said, including those that used New York City imagery.

The October issue of American Express Publishing's Departures, a themed issue centered on New York, was yanked back from the printer so a letter from the editor and publisher could be added dedicating the issue to the city. The cover image of the skyline circa 1930, before the towers were built, was left in place.

Time Inc.'s Fortune remade its issue pulling more than 60 ads deemed inaapropriate, according to Publisher Mike Federle. At a rate of $76,000 for a color page, that's a potential loss of up to $4 million. It also postponed an editorial package based on its "What's Next?" conference to cover the week's events.

Conde Nast Publications staffers working in offices on the south side of the building in the 48-story Conde Nast building in Times Square had a clear view of the crashes and the collapses. That building was later evacuated on Thursday as bomb scares were reported throughout the city.

The publisher's only weekly, The New Yorker, tore up the planned issue to devote space to the attack and its aftermath, devoid of most of the usual cartoons. VP-Publisher David Carey said about eight advertisers pulled out including airlines, and financial services. "This is the greatest blow yet to a year that's been tough enough already," Mr. Carey said.

Most Popular
In this article: