500,000 extra copies

Sunday was a big sports day in the United States. For the first time ever, a National Basketball Association team came back in the finals after being down 3-1. That same team defeated the Golden State Warriors, which had a 73-9 win-loss record in the regular season.

And GSW were implausibly beaten in game seven on their own home turf.

And the win signaled the first win for any Cleveland men’s professional sports team –football, baseball and basketball – since 1964, the longest such drought for any American city in recent sports history. And the Cleveland Cavaliers, with considerable help from native Buckeye LeBron James, broke the hex, or jinx if you prefer. And the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the fourth largest-circulation daily newspaper in the Midwest, printed 500,000 extra editions as a result,* more than a 13-fold increase in the daily subscribers figure for the paper.

Good for the PD. Good for Northern Ohio. Good for all supporters of apparent underdogs and lost causes.

But where have all those 500,000 Buckeyes been for the past decades? They want to validate their professional sports franchises and raise the hopes of a much-maligned city by getting a piece of history in the form of a Page One of the local newspaper. Isn’t the news we all need and want something that still — even in this age of social and new media – is also the purview of daily newspapers?

Daily household penetration of U.S. newspapers has been dropping since 1910. Radio, television, Baby Boomers’ “unsettling” patterns and new media all have taken their toll. The PD clearly is part of this trend.

Still, when we want to remember a newsworthy event, few of us rush to find and keep a Googled copy of the event or make a DVD of a televised program for posterity. Instead, we seek newspaper front page to remember – for a scrapbook or for framing or for squirreling away in a drawer to retrieve at some later date and possibly share with friends, children and grandchildren.

It’s impossible to find a leak-proof moral to all this. Perhaps the best media watchers can do is to applaud the Cleveland PD and the 500,000 individuals for that front page of the Cavs’ newsworthy win. Still….


Cleveland Plain Dealer overwhelmed by demand for Cavs’ victory reprints


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