UPI News Release on New World Headquarters (1984)

Here's a Feb. 29, 1984, UPI news release on the opening of its new World Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (written by David Wickenden):



WASHINGTON -- United Press International officially opened its new World Headquarters facilities February 29. More than 500 guests, including White House, Congressional and other officials, industry and media leaders, subscribers and "Unipressers" past and present came to inaugurate the 77- year-old news agency's increased presence in the nation's capital.

Located three blocks from the White House, the United Press International World Headquarters Building is a new addition to the fast-growing Franklin Square area of downtown Washington. UPI's two full floors have been designed to showcase sophisticated newsgathering and news distribution technologies.

The Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi (SPJ, SDX) chose the occasion to hold a ceremony honoring the new bureau as (a) "Historic Site in Journalism." Representing SPJ, SDX, Bob Lewis of Newhouse News Service's Washington bureau presented a bronze plaque commending the "world's largest privately owned news service" for its many years of providing the news.

Attending the ceremony and following reception were members of UPI's subscriber Advisory Boards of Directors. The entire board representing Latin America, in Washington for (its) annual UPI meeting, was on hand with visiting editors from Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, (Colombia), Peru, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

William J. Small, UPI president and a former national president of SPJ, SDX, accepted the plaque and welcomed the guests, who included editors of major newspapers, network television correspondents and others.

Included in the new facilities, filling 30,000 square feet of office space, are UPI's Washington, National, Latin American and International news desks. Soon to be added are headquarters for UPI Newspictures, the UPI Radio Network and "Nuestras Noticias," the Spanish-language radio network UPI is launching along with two partners.

UPI's headquarters also include offices for several subscribers, such as EFE, principal news agency of Spain, and Barcelona's La Vanguardia.

Douglas F. Ruhe, managing director and chief executive officer, said the opening of the World Headquarters marked a "major milestone in UPI's expansion and reorganization to provide better service" to subscribers.

"Previously, we experienced a great deal of duplication between our New York and Washington operations, which had evolved into two large separate offices during the teletype era. Now, for the first time, our editors supervising the key news reports are in close physical proximity for planning and execution of stories," Ruhe said.

"And," he added, "they are working from brand new facilities custom designed to UPI's needs for the 1980s and beyond."

All of the news and photo desks are arranged in a single open room on the 8th floor, which stretches around the space in an "L" shape. Staffers working on a particular desk sit in clustered work stations that include the video terminals, reference wires and other materials needed for their "beat.'

A special portion of the 8th floor has been set aside for the expansion of the Newspictures operation in the near future. This area will house two "digital darkrooms" for automated picture editing and routing, and a sophisticated new graphics center.

A major portion of the 9th floor is still the site of construction for what will soon be the main headquarters for the UPI Radio Network.

Many of the staffers in the World Headquarters were transferred from New York, which had been the new service's main headquarters since its beginnings. These included editors on the Latin American desk; the Foreign and Cables desks, now unified in the International desk; and the General Desk, now combined with editors working on the day's major stories from Washington to form the National desk.

Staff formerly working in Washington transferred from the National Press Building, which UPI left during renovations.

UPI continues to maintain one of its largest offices at 220 E. 42nd Street in New York, which includes the Sports, Financial, Unistox, Enterprise and other desks and sales operations. Also in New York are Metropolitan Division headquarters, a photo bureau, UPI Radio Network bureau and other functions.

Maxwell McCrohon, UPI's executive vice president and editor in chief, and Ron Cohen, the managing editor, are based in the new Washington facility. UPI's corporate officers and many other senior editors also have offices in the World Headquarters Building.

Creation of a unified editorial headquarters was one of the goals UPI's new management set after studying the results of a number of analyses done internally and by outside consultants as UPI sought to reorganize under the most efficient lines possible and maximize its resources.

The first major moves in reorganization came in 1982 and 1983, when UPI established seven domestic administrative divisions and strengthened the three international divisions. Many special "regional" services and features were created as staff and resources in the various areas were expanded. To date, UPI has introduced 30 new offices for news and/or picture coverage as part of the program to enhance regional news coverage.

The new Washington headquarters is designed to work integrally with the division system. Working under McCrohon and Cohen, several assistant managing editors have been appointed to coordinate news coverage and development with the division.

Special Washington correspondents have been assigned to cover news exclusively for home divisions in the U.S. and overseas, watching for news of interest to subscribers in their particular states or countries. A new Washington broadcast editor looks out for the interests of UPI radio and television subscribers as part of a massive program to put broadcast news directly to the wire rather than waiting for rewrites.

The new facility enables editors on the various desks to work together closely as stories are planned. This enables a coordination and an attention to the full range of ramifications inherent in each story that previously was not possible.

Although the Washington facility is more advanced and modern than the former headquarters in New York, its greater efficiency and the generally lower costs in the Washington area will mean savings for UPI and ultimately its subscribers.

The physical plant costs less because the rent, utilities and maintenance are much lower. An added benefit is that staff encounter lower rents and personal expenses, which UPI is finding makes joining or transferring to the World Headquarters more attractive to talented journalists.

Inauguration of the new headquarters comes at a time of optimism and growth for UPI. Following 1983, a year in which new services and new subscribers were announced monthly, the advent of 1984 was symbolized by the opening of UPI's new offices.

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