The Cincinnati Post Comments on UPI in 1982



Here's a June 19, 1982, "Media Watch" column about UPI by Richard Gordon, ombudsman for The Cincinnati Post:


The line of small Italic type says "United Press International," and probably most readers pay little or no attention to it.

They plunge right away into the news story to learn what has happened in the Falklands or Lebanon, in Washington or Wichita. Or just about anywhere in the world.

UPI itself has been in the news recently. The Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps Co., which has owned the wire service since it was started in 1907, sold it to Media News Corp., a newly-formed company.

Douglas Rhue, one of the principals in the new firm, noted that Scripps had spent $10 million on a computer center at Dallas, plus millions on picture transmission facilities in New York and Brussels, and 500 video display terminals in its news bureaus.

The new owners intend to step up UPI's changeover to satellite delivery of news to its clients.

Developments in technology are impressive, but the computer and satellite can handle only the information that is gathered by humans. There will must be reporters and editors.

"Judgment is an important factor," says Bill Coombe, regional news editor at Pittsburgh. "UPI people need to know how to select news for the wire."

UPI has about 2,000 full-time employees, plus part-time "stringers" on a world-wide basis. There are approximately 70 foreign bureaus, and 146 bureaus in the U.S. UPI serves about 650 daily newspapers plus many radio and television stations, and some businesses.

Ohio has three UPI bureaus -- at Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. The Columbus bureau, covering state government and serving as a control point, includes about a dozen employees and operates on a 24-hour basis.

The Cincinnati bureau at 800 Broadway includes Bureau Manager Janet Walsh, Rick Van Sant, and Terry Bochatey, photographer.

UPI has various state, regional and national wires for newspapers and broadcast media, Usually the Cincinnati bureau transmits to Columbus, where the decision is made concerning distribution of the news from here. However, the Cincinnati bureau can put a story directly onto the Ohio wire (for clients within the state) during part of the operating day.

Walsh or Van Sant routinely check the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which is the source of a good deal of news in a four-state area. They cover some conventions and sports events in person, and also go out on major fast-breaking news developments. But most of their news work is done by telephone.

Unless a big story is breaking, Walsh and Van Sant work through the day to keep up with the flow of regular news, checking standard sources such as law enforcement agencies.

The founder of E.W. Scripps, once said: "I regard my life's great work to be the creator of the United Press. I have made it impossible to suppress the truth or successfully disseminate falsehood."

United Press acquired Heart's International News Service in 1958 and became UPI. That left just two major wire services, the other being The Associated Press.

News people hope the new owners can move UPI out of the financial loss column while maintaining the integrity of E.W. Scripps. They know that competition tends to keep the competitors on their toes -- and honest.

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