Roger Bennett Obit

UPI editor Roger Bennett dead of cancer

Monday, 18 September 2000 15:07 (ET)

PASADENA, Calif., Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Veteran United Press International news editor Roger Bennett, known as a stickler for good writing and for his sense of humor, has died after a battle with lung cancer. He was 58.

Bennett began work with UPI in Salt Lake City in 1973. He later transferred to Los Angeles, where was persuaded to become a regional sales executive, then considered the ladder to higher UPI management. But he soon abandoned sales for his first love, writing and editing.

After many years as the senior news editor in the Los Angeles bureau, he was named West Regional Editor for UPI in 1996, supervising West Coast coverage.

Colleagues remembered him as a consummate wire service editor who valued accuracy and good writing as much as the need for moving copy quickly.

"It was Roger's example that motivated so many young journalists to surpass themselves in their quest for excellence," said Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI's president and CEO.

Bennett "was the quintessential wire service journalist, a superb reporter, writer and editor," said former UPI colleague Art McGinn. "Any story touched by Bennett, the top gun for decades in the hugely challenging Los Angeles bureau, which was responsible for the entire West Coast for many years, was, simply put, a clinic on how it's done, and usually a thing of beauty besides. Add to that the mind you wished you had, and a wicked sense of humor. He will be greatly missed."

Pat Nason, UPI's Hollywood reporter and a longtime colleague, said "I am sure most people will remember Roger most for his surefire sense of humor. He was one of the funniest people I ever knew. But he was also one of the most ethical professionals I have ever worked with. He had his opinions on just about everything, but his copy was always fair and evenhanded, in keeping with the best tradition of impartial journalism.

"He was also one of the fastest workers I ever saw. He could edit a 1,200 word piece in just a couple of minutes, and you could bet money that the end product would be immaculate. As far as I know, no one had a better command or more thorough knowledge of the UPI Stylebook."

"Roger was a charming and witty guy, and a natural in this business," said Bruce Cook, UPI senior editor who hired Bennett to work in Salt Lake City, where he had attended the University of Utah.

"From the day he joined UPI, Roger wrote like a news agency veteran. He was a smooth writer, cool under pressure. He went on to become one of this company's top editors. He demanded excellence on our wires. I think he memorized UPI's stylebook. Roger hounded style violators with incisive, often funny, messages on UPI's internal wires. It didn't matter whether the offender was a national editor or a rookie staffer working the nightshift in Chicago. If they broke a style rule or mangled a sentence, they heard from Roger."

"Roger was a good man and a good editor who stayed focused on quality journalism and never lost his sense of humor," said Tobin Beck, UPI executive editor.

As an example of his sense of humor, a few weeks before his death Bennett said he always had looked forward to having time to read but didn't have much energy to do so and knew he didn't have long to live.

"People are sending me books, I'm telling them to send me chapters," he said.

Bennett married Ellen Greenstone in 1988.

He is survived by his wife and a daughter, Dory.