JFK50: Dallas paper finds success by reprinting its past

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The Dallas Morning News wanted its current customers to experience what readers experienced in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. And through the successful process,  it extended that opportunity to newsstands across the rest of the country as well.

The DMN has been covering the 50th anniversary of the assassination for well over a year and one of the ideas early was to reprint the historic coverage (the Nov. 23, 1963 complete copy of the DMN) and give readers a chance to buy it.

But there was a problem: The News didn’t have a preserved copy of the Nov. 23, 1963 edition and the archived pages weren’t of a quality capable for reprinting.

Photo editor Michael Hamtil took it upon himself to rectify that problem. He purchased a copy of the paper on eBay from a collector.

There had been multiple ideas of how to reprint the paper, including actually replicating it from scratch. But Hamtil had a better plan: have a photographer shoot the pages in the studio and compare that to a high quality flatbed scan of the page. The quality between the two was similar so the DMN chose the in-house option.

Second JFK page for SNDStaff photographer Evans Caglage then shot all of the pages in the studio by placing them under non-reflective glass. He shot them two different ways (the yellowed pages as they actually look 50 years later and a more whitened version.) The result were high resolution photos that could be turned into a legible edition of that paper.

Chip Danneker, vice president of circulation and distribution for The News, said they originally printed 25,000 of the papers and sold most of them. They printed another 100,000 in October and are on track to sell all of them.

Danneker started thinking of the universal appeal for such a paper outside of Dallas and worked out a printing and distribution deal with USA Today. He said they are on track to sell over 100,000 copies around the country.

Between the two sellers, over 250,000 of the historical edition will be sold. Danneker said The News will make close to $500,000 in revenue from the project.