Traditionally, newspapers published either mornings or afternoons, with two or more newspapers competing with one another in a city. However, that era has all but disappeared, except for the largest cities. Most cities now have one newspaper, and large metropolitan areas may have suburban newspapers that compete with the major daily in their areas.
What's more, most newspapers have launched internet World Wide Web sites that may contain much or all of the newspaper's daily content. In fact, these web sites often contain more material than appeared in the print version, with graphics and additional links to other web sites containing more background information.
All this means that the traditional practice of issuing news releases to meet deadlines of "AM" or PM" newspapers has become a thing of the past. While newspapers will continue to remain important means of reaching the public, the information medium may be electrons as much as newsprint.
Such changes mean that if you issue news material on an "immediate release" or "release at will" basis, remember that radio and television news shows and web news sites can break news stories almost immediately. Thus, you may want to specify a time for release that assures that the electronic and print versions of a story can appear at about the same time. This assures that the public will have the benefit of both the audiovisual portrayal of a story and the greater detail available in text form, whether in a newspaper or over the internet.
However, if you want your material to meet newspaper deadlines, you still must keep them in mind. The first editions of morning papers usually appear on the streets late the previous evening, and early editions of afternoon papers are out in mid-morning. Accordingly, deadlines for morning papers are usually early the previous evening, and for afternoon papers early that morning. Such release times should allow even more time for journalists to do their interviewing and prepare their stories.
News for release to Sunday newspapers should be handled as it is for weekday editions. This means that the news event must occur on Saturday. If it actually occurs on Friday, you cannot ask papers to hold it for Sunday release — although the science writer or Sunday editor may decide to do so independently. Many institutions, however, distribute reports or studies on a Friday embargoed for release the following Sunday.
Material for science features — that is, stories without critical timing — should be submitted further in advance. These include stories for special Sunday newspaper sections and science pages or sections, many of which are produced by a special editor. Many feature stories are pitched to editors as exclusives months in advance. Never pitch hard news stories as exclusives; only feature ideas in which you think a particular journalist might be interested.
Special-interest daily newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal or the Journal of Commerce, usually have the same requirements as other papers. Since the major special-interest dailies publish in the mornings, they can be considered AM's when planning news dissemination.
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