If you are a subscriber (or even if you buy from the rack or the Kangeroo), you may have seen an unusual editor's note on today's front page. (Not a note from an unusual editor, but an unusual note.)
It said, "Because of the later tipoff times for tonight's UNC and N.C. State games, the News & Observer final edition will be delivered later than usual Saturday morning to include coverage from the Midwest Regional......"
The UNC game against Ohio is scheduled to start at 7:47, which could mean 8 p.m. The N.C. State game against (gulp) Kansas is scheduled to start at 10:17 p.m., or later, depending on when the UNC game ends. In these situations, listed TV game start times are accurate only within 15 or 20 minutes or so.
We will be hustling to get the UNC game in the State edition, which goes mostly to Eastern North Carolina all the way to the Four Corners Diner in Atlantic Beach (I've been looking for a chance to plug this place.)
The Final edition, which we usually have to send to the pressroom by 11:25 on Friday night, is being held to get the State game in, thanks to the extremely wonderful accommodation of the pressroom and our carriers.
We may not be sending the last pages of the Final to the pressroom until 1:15 a.m. We will start the press up and run a bunch of papers off so we can get the farthest Final edition trucks away from the dock. Then we will replate, which is newspaper jargon for updating several pages with additional stories and photos being sent by our reporters and photographers in St. Louis, hitting the button to send them to the pressroom, wrapping the new plates around the press cylinders and starting back up again. (If you want to know what pressure is, the reporters and photographers in St. Louis, who have been working all day, will have - starting at 12:45 - about 15 minutes to get their first stories and game-end photos to the editors and page designers who then will have 15 minutes to muscle all that into pages to start the Final edition press run. And then they have to do this all over again for the replate. Meanwhile, getting all this to our online staff.)
As Brooke Cain noted on today's front page, the State and UNC games have been directed to TBS by the CBS-Turner Sports cabal, which undoubtedly has caused WRAL no end of angst as they will be airing the Baylor/Xavier and Kentucky/Indiana games. Which are huge in this market, no doubt.
Of course, if State and UNC both win tonight, this weekend will be crazy. The Sunday head-to-head between State and UNC will dominate the Sunday paper and the Monday paper.