Breaking news: Newspapers do something successful

November 20, 2008

The election may not have helped the evening news at all, but it’s giving a boost to some major newspapers.

“Really? People are buying more papers and driving more ad sales?” No, stupid. That’s crazy talk. These papers are making money through moichandising: selling posters, T-shirts and coffee mugs emblazoned with their post-Election Day front pages.

The Los Angeles Times says it’s sold $686,000 of its “It’s Obama” souvenirs. The New York Times is hawking reprints, photos and even a special book, and the Chicago Sun-Times is auctioning off 44 prints of its Nov. 5 front page on eBay. Hell, even The Onion is selling prints of its “Black man given nation’s worst job” front page (which will soon be hanging in the Swimmin’ Hole! offices).

Obviously this phenomenon isn’t something newspapers can bank on for future success. Nobody’s gonna want a framed print of a typical front page. And, sorry CNN, the only people who’d wear a “Spacewalker loses tool bag” T-shirt are tool bags.

But if more newspapers can start thinking creatively like this — and spend less time treating their employees like crap — they may have a future after all.