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posted: 7/4/2013 5:00 AM

Daily journalism with a shelf life of a lifetime

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The shelf life of a daily newspaper has always been, well, pretty much by definition, just one day. But we aren't always limited to journalism that's so short-lived.

Case in point: "Unstoppable!" -- our souvenir retrospective on the Chicago Blackhawks' historic championship season. Here's a book of stories and photographs that will keep delighting Hawks fans, whether they were on board before the record 24-game unbeaten streak or just got caught up in the excitement of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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And, for all its timeless appeal, it's interesting to point out that the book is a product of many of the same processes required to get a newspaper to your doorstep or computer screen every day. For, unlike many books, which can involve weeks or months of preparation, "Unstoppable!" offered an extremely short production window.

It opened with the first game of the finals, when editors began to consider the possibility that the Hawks could bring home the trophy within, at that point, as soon as a little longer than a week. That's when a variety of staffers -- including Senior Vice President Colin O'Donnell, Sports Editor Tom Quinlan, Director of Photography Jeff Knox, Assistant Director of Photography Chris Hankins, Deputy Managing Editor Diane Dungey, Deputy Managing Editor Teresa Schmedding, Assistant News Editor Travis Siebrass and others -- began working with publisher Triumph Books of Chicago to conceptualize and plan out a 128-page softcover tribute.

In the midst of writing and reporting on the games themselves as the playoffs proceeded, the editors, along with reporters, photographers and other staff, undertook to identify stories, select photographs, produce new copy and build it all into a selection that could be sent to press almost within hours of, if it came, a final victory.

All this, mind you, while they were engaged in their regular work for the daily edition. Indeed, as the daily newspaper was going to bed around midnight -- a souvenir edition it its own right, of course, -- after the stunning 17 seconds that put the Cup in Hawks hands, a flurry of writing, editing, photo selection and layout was also going on so that "Unstoppable!" could be available for Hawks fans while the excitement of the season was still fresh.

The result is a richly satisfying, glossy compendium of stories and pictures from and about the season by Daily Herald sports writers, including an introduction by Chicago's dean of hockey writers, our own Tim Sassone. The 8.5-by-11-inch volume includes reflections on the historic start to the lockout-shortened season, game-by-game reports and pictures from every playoff series, profiles of coach Joel Quenneville and star players Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Corey Crawford and Bryan Bickell and more.

It is a remarkable piece of sports journalism, combining the excitement of a daily news product with the analysis and reflection associated with examining an event in history that occurs over an extended period of time. If you haven't done so already, you can purchase a copy of "Unstoppable!" at our website, www.dailyherald.com, and you can buy eBook editions at the iBookstore, the Kindle Store, BN.com and ipgbook.com. It's not an officially licensed Blackhawks product, but then, neither is the Daily Herald.

But both products do share similar roots -- a commitment to comprehensively covering a sport, a team and a season with excitement and flare. For the Daily Herald, that usually means a product that's ready for the dustbin a day after it hits your doorstep. But this time, it means something that will have value for Hawks fans for a lifetime.

• Jim Slusher, jslusher@dailyherald.com, is an assistant managing editor at the Daily Herald. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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