The New York Times Adjusts Printing on The Fly

It’s an overused phrase that is rarely used to mean exactly what it’s supposed to mean, but last night it literally happened: Someone gave the order to stop the presses. Eileen Murphy, Vice President of Corporate Communications at The New York Times, tells FishbowlNY that today’s papers were already being processed when the news of Bin Laden being killed broke.

“The news broke really late, and by that time we were already in the middle of the printing run,” she explains. “There was some discussion and because of the magnitude of the news, the order was given to stop the presses.”

She says that because the Times’ printing plant is highly efficient, they were able to act quickly. First, the front pages of the papers that were being printed were destroyed, and then, at approximately 12:45 am, the presses began to churn out the updated version. A total of 165,000 additional copies were printed to address the anticipated increased consumer demand.

Murphy guessed that the last time the Times had to adjust its printing process was during the Gulf War, which just shows how unusual this is.

“It’s been a long time since anyone can remember a run being stopped, papers being thrown out, and then a new run starting up,” added Murphy.

Here’s what the front page of the Times was supposed to be. [Thanks to Nick Bilton]