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Inauguration’s timing is off for Gazette

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Scott Angus
January 20, 2009

Timing is critical in life, and it’s particularly critical to a newspaper that goes to press one time a day.

Unfortunately, the timing of Barack Obama’s inauguration as the 44th president of the United States couldn’t have been worse for The Janesville Gazette.

Obama put his hand in the air at 11:05 a.m. Tuesday Janesville time to take the oath of office. He proceeded to give an eloquent address over the next 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, the presses to produce the day’s Janesville Gazette had started at 10:45 a.m. as they do every day, barring technical problems or major breaking news.

No doubt, Obama’s inauguration was major news, but it wasn’t of the “breaking” variety. We all knew what was going to happen and when. We didn’t know what Obama would say in his address, and that was the lone element that made us consider holding our presses.

But the timing was just too far off. By the time Obama had stopped speaking, a decent story had been filed, we had edited the story and written the headline, and the final page had been put on the press, we’d have been more than an hour past our normal deadline. That would have thrown off our carrier force, many of whom have other commitments after delivering the Gazette, and it would have assured late papers for many of our readers.

Beyond that, it’s not as if our readers couldn’t get the details of Obama’s speech elsewhere, if they didn’t watch it themselves. Every major news outlet in the country—and many throughout the world—covered the inauguration.

In fact, this Web site provides in-depth and layered coverage of the inauguration, ranging from stories on the day’s events to streaming video of the ceremony itself. While digital news has hurt print products, it offers round-the-clock outlets for their news operations. And we’re learning every day how to better take advantage.

As with Obama’s election, though, many people want something tangible to mark the occasion, and print newspapers do that better than anything else. We’ve got loads of advance coverage in Tuesday’s Gazette, and Wednesday’s paper—though printed a full 24 hours after the swearing in and speech—will duly represent the significance of this most historic occasion.

So enjoy our coverage here at gazettextra.com and pick up extra copies of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s Gazette. You’ll have the best of both the new and old media worlds.



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