1977 'Downhold' Memo II

Here's a July 21, 1977, memo from Bernie Caughey:




We're halfway through the year, but we still have another six tough months ahead.

Overall, we've kept under the expense budget, but we have a long way to go before the final figures are in.

I don't want this to be misinterpreted as a panic letter. But I do want each of you to know that we've got to keep constant pressure on to prevent spending from exceeding the budget.

We've got some real trouble areas regarding controllable expenses -- especially telephone, stringers, sick relief and overtime.

We simply cannot continue to spend for the next six months at the same level we spent the past six in these categories. And we won't.

We started out the year with the idea that budgeting was not the concept of saving money, but the art of spending it wisely. That still holds. I think we've generally done that. But we have some problem areas and we're working on them.

I want to thank each of you for a really conscientious job in this battle to control expenses. We all know we are a news operation and that your job is to provide news to UPI's subscribers.

But it doesn't end there.

As managers, your job is provide news to UPI's subscribers and to do so within your budget.

Granted, there are special circumstances that can cause you to overspend. But those are few and far between. And they really don't include something like a holiday or vacation. Nor does it include every breaking news story. Or unexpected sickness.

A poor manager can look good in an ideal situation, but the really good manager will sparkle even in less than ideal circumstances. That's what UPI expects from each of you.

Each of you should have received (or soon will receive) your budget readouts for the first six months. And, if you are keeping accurate daily book on your spending, you should know what your trouble areas are even before we do.

If you are over the budget in any of the controllable items, you should pay extra attention to those categories to get them back under the budgeted figure. And we'll help you as much as possible.

Remember at the start we likened your budget to your personal bank account. You could spend that money--but not overdraw on it. And, if you overspent in one month, you should under-spend in another month to get it back in line.

You're still the manager. And it must be your decision on where and how the money should be spent -- if you have it in your budget to spend.

And that's where we'll help you out.

Hereout, we will not approve any stringer payrolls that are over the monthly budgeted figure, if your state is over the budget for the year to date. Instead, that stringer payroll will be returned to you asking for a more complete explanation of why you're over the budget and asking how you plan to get back under the budget for the year.

We'll have to work hard at it, but we are within reach of getting the overtime category back under the budgeted figure. But that will require good planning and decisive decisions from each of you to make sure every hour spent on overtime is absolutely necessary.

But those two items--stringers and overtime-- are merely storm warnings compared to the disastrous telephone bill. That's a tornado warning! Each of you must make absolutely sure that we need each piece of telephone equipment which we currently have. We've got to shorten the length of our calls. I'm as guilty as anyone else, but please let's cut out the chit-chat. Get to the point and then get off the phone. We're in real trouble here.

Again, thanks for your cooperation during the first six months. Unfortunately past performance shows that expenses seem to grow larger during the last six months of the year. We cannot afford that, and we will not permit it. Therefore, we need your total commitment--as newsperson, manager and expense controller--during the last half of this year.


Bernie Caughey