Newspapers see big demand from bin Laden news

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WASHINGTON (AP) - When big news breaks, newspapers are in demand despite the immediacy of online news.

Newspaper across the country including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The News & Advance in Lynchburg, Va., printed extra copies in anticipation of higher demand Monday, when headlines heralded the death of Osama bin Laden.

Some newspapers stopped their presses to update their front pages with late Sunday’s developments. The Washington Examiner, a free daily newspaper, ran a special edition Monday afternoon under the headline, “We Got Him!”

The website for the Newseum, a museum in Washington devoted to journalism, was inaccessible for many visitors Monday as thousands of people flocked to it to see how newspapers around the world handled coverage of the terrorist leader’s death. The website posts digital replicas of front pages of hundreds of newspapers every day.

Paul Sparrow, senior vice president of broadcasting at the Newseum, said the museum often sees demand for newspapers’ front pages spike when there are major stories in sports, entertainment or politics. Some of the biggest news events recently were the 2008 presidential elections and the New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl victory in 2009.

The site was processing more than 2,800 requests per second when it became overloaded, he said. Traffic started to peak at 3 a.m. Eastern time when Europeans woke to the news. It grew again at about 6 a.m. Newseum even became one of the 10 most-talked about topics on Twitter for a while.

Sparrow said Monday would likely be one of the busiest days, if not the busiest, for Newseum.org.

Although websites allow people to get up-to-the-minute news, readers turn to newspapers because they offer a snapshot in time, Sparrow said.

“It reflects an emotional moment in time versus an ongoing story that’s constantly changing,” he said.

Stephen G. Smith, editor of The Washington Examiner, said readers like to relive major events, and newspapers offer a chance to stop and digest news, rather than chase the latest developments.

Several newspapers promoted Monday’s editions as keepsakes, just as many did the day after President Barack Obama’s election and inauguration. Some newspapers, such as the Chicago Tribune, plan to make Monday’s edition available for sale on Tuesday for people who missed it.

A newsstand at the National Press Building in Washington sold out nearly every newspaper with the bin Laden story by noon Monday. The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post were sold out on some newsstands, according to those newspapers.

The New York Times doubled or tripled the number of newsstand copies it printed for several markets, including New York, Washington, Boston and San Francisco. The Washington Post said it printed an additional 70,000 copies, which is about double its normal print run, excluding home subscribers. USA Today added roughly 200,000.

The Los Angeles Times printed 100,000 extra copies and kept printing plates in place “if we need to run more,” said spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan. The News & Advance in Lynchburg added about 2,000 copies to its daily run of 28,000.

The newspapers did not say how many were actually sold Monday.

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