Tar Heels take championship, so fans take newspapers

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The Daily Tar Heel, like most college papers, is free. Every weekday, anyone may pick up a copy in newsracks throughout the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and in downtown Chapel Hill.

That easy access to the news changes on certain occasions. Sometimes papers disappear in bunches because people don’t like what’s printed there. Other times, the papers disappear because people do like what’s printed there.

That’s what happened the day after the Tar Heels won the national championship in men’s basketball. The Daily Tar Heel planned for the possibility that a victory in the title game would make the newspaper a valuable piece of property. The paper published this advisory on its front page and online to let readers know how they could get a copy of the paper the day after the game and beyond. It included this warning to those who would take multiple copies:

The bulk removal of large numbers of copies in excess of what’s reasonable will be considered theft and will be dealt with as such. … In addition, if you have not purchased additional copies of the DTH, then we believe that selling free copies is an infringement of our copyright, and we will pursue all remedies available to us as we have successfully in the past.

That admonition, however, is not deterring some people from grabbing dozens of copies from boxes. Others, like the man in the photo above, are playing by the rules.

Either way, it seems that everyone wants a copy of this edition. That’s because on occasion, a printed newspaper has tremendous value as a keepsake (and as a resale item on eBay). People will do anything to get one — or more. (I confess to taking two copies of this edition of the DTH: one for my family and another for the silent auction at the national conference of the American Copy Editors Society.)

For more on the keepsake value of newspapers versus the interactivity of online, take a look at this post by my colleague Ryan Thornburg. And if you want to buy a copy of that historic issue of the DTH, try here.

UPDATE: General manager Kevin Schwartz writes about the day and the demand.