The news of John Wooden's passing was announced last evening just after 7 p.m. By then, today's front section of the Los Angeles Times was already on the presses — a byproduct of the already much-discussed early deadline switch to save money. Admirably, the decision was made at the highest levels to stop the presses, tear up the front page to cover the news, and take the hit in late delivery. The damage: 175,849 papers did not have the Wooden obituary package on the front page. (Operators standing by to take angry calls.) An internal email this morning says 400,416 papers did get the obituary. "The presses were down 3 hours and 15 minutes," the email says. "They were able to make up some time, but the papers were delivered to distributors as late as 1 hour and 42 minutes."
Who did and did not get the paper was, as usual, erratic. I heard from a San Diego reader whose paper arrived late but with the coverage, and Los Angeles readers who are royally ticked that they didn't. Sample: "I call 800-LA-Times and get someone in a far away land who doesn't know who John Wooden is or what I could possibly be talking about." The LAT package, by the way, is very nice — in print and on the web. A special section on Wooden is tentatively scheduled to run June 13 and it might include the obit for subscribers who missed it today, the email says.