Anxious wait for print journalists: Will dailies or Sundays reap Royal baby sales boost?

While the horde of TV crews and photographers can sit back, relax and enjoy the London sunshine as they wait for news of the impending Royal birth outside St Mary's Hospital in London, Britain's daily newspaper journalists will be sweating as much as your average tube passenger.

The baby being born very late on a Friday (today) or first thing on a Saturday morning (tomorrow) is possibly their worst nightmare – the Sundays, on the other hand, will be quietly praying the story falls nicely into their laps.

Every daily news, pictures and features desk will have a contingency plan in place. A detailed flat plan is sitting in every editor's draw, ready to be whipped out the second there is the hint of the baby's arrival.

But the Friday night, Saturday morning arrival will send a shudder down the spine of those in the corridors of power.

Usually papers will manage to run a 3am edition, squeezing in everything they can on open pages to ensure they grab a slice of the action from the late breaker.

Perhaps this time they will print later – but the cost will be huge, with more editions, more staff, more trucks and an army of angry newsagents the length and breadth of Britain being forced to explain to their early-bird customers that the papers haven’t arrived yet.

And by that point, they could totally have missed the boat.

The dailies may have already planned their Royal Baby Souvenir Specials. When Margaret Thatcher died some of these spanned around 16 pages – but if the newest member of the Royals arrives on Saturday morning, Monday morning is going to feel a bit late to present your readers with their souvenir, especially when the Sundays should clean up and maximise pictures and reaction the day before.

At the moment, the Sundays will be thinking the more time that passes, the stronger their position – but ironically, the pendulum swings back in favour of the dailies if there is still no news this time tomorrow.

If Kate goes into hospital late on Saturday or very early on Sunday morning, the dailies and the Sundays will be involved in a titanic struggle to score maximum traffic to their online sites.

The boost in circulation for the daily newspapers with a story like this  would be monumental – and missing it based on circumstance is a knock that they won’t be able to take too well.

So, as the clock ticks today, newspaper executives will be keeping a nervous eye on the wires and Sky News.

And the irony of it all is that if we get to the middle of next week with no movement, the madness will start all over again.

Doug Shields was formerly on the Sun newsdesk and is now news editor of agency 72Point.

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