How do you publish a commemorative reprint without printing anything?

Days before the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which pummeled Long Island on October 29, 2012, Newsday produced a commemorative section that told the story of a storm Long Islanders will never forget. The section featured a collection of 76 pages previously published after the storm made landfall.

Except we never put this special section on a press. No ink. No newsprint.

It was the first special section Newsday ever created exclusively for our digital newspaper.

This “special digital reprint” went out to all Newsday subscribers, print and digital, and anyone with access to or the Newsday app.

We wanted to mark the storm’s anniversary in a way that celebrated great journalism and cutting edge digital content and videos we produced online in the days and weeks that followed Sandy’s devastating landfall. We combined the best of both words: print and digital.

Readers who accessed the special section through the HTML5 version of our digital newspaper on October 26, 2017, also saw another first: an animated front page, created from a video of Sandy’s waves battering Long Island’s North Shore.

The rest of the pages were peppered with 72 multi-media links to videos, collections of photos, story galleries, individual articles, and databases. The multi-media links included archived content and new interactive features created to mark the anniversary.

Original print coverage of Superstorm Sandy was transformed into a rich, interactive, digital experience.
Original print coverage of Superstorm Sandy was transformed into a rich, interactive, digital experience.

The idea for the Sandy section began with Seth Mates, an art director who designed many of the original storm coverage pages. Working with a group of editors and PageSuite, our app and digital newspaper vendor, we produced the digital reprint project as a section of the daily online newspaper and as a stand-alone section in our Classic Editions archive, where it continues to build on the 320,000 page views the section generated on the first day.

On the day Sandy hit Long Island in 2012, Newsday’s digital newspaper was in its first years. It began as a PDF-based replica of the print version, accessed primarily through our Web site on desktop computers. The day Sandy hit, with massive flooding and power outages, and the Newsday app provided continuous live coverage; and it was another option for readers who could not get a copy of our print edition.

In the years that followed, we introduced video and photo feeds that let us turn the digital newspaper into an interactive experience, enriching the pages with links to multi-media content exclusive to

More recently, as metrics showed our very engaged digital audience was becoming largely mobile, we added a story feed that lets readers tap on an article so it opens in a mobile-friendly window.

The digital newspaper also has become a kind of final edition, including pages updated after the newspaper goes to print and stories that continue to develop into the next day’s news cycle.

We also have introduced new advertising opportunities, including the ability to replace flat print section ads with interactive versions and digital strip ads that run below the pages, and to allow a one-day “takeover” by a single advertiser. For the special Sandy section, a local advertiser did exactly that, producing revenue for the first time from a section of the newspaper that never went on press.

The transformation of the digital newspaper from a flat replica of the print edition to an interactive experience made this special digital reprint a natural next step. It also opened the door to new possibilities as we explore the idea of animated covers and advertisements and the possibility of more reprints we don’t have to print.