Here's an April 10, 1972, letter from Jud Dixon, broadcast editor for the Southwest Division to a Texas radio client:
Mr. Bob Shrader News Director KNOW Radio Austin, Texas
Just as I was beginning to recover from your first letter critiqueing the Texas broacast wire, you zap me again with "another list of UPI boo-boos." I can agree with some of your thoughts and feelings as discussed in Monterrey and in you first letter.
Let me assure you that we work constantly to put out a good broadcast product, and I am convinced that we do. This belief was strengthened after I finished a side by side comparison last week of our wire with the AP.
Yet by some of the comments attached to the bundle of items you sent me, I wondeer whether this is a search for errors on the wire, or an effort to really work with us in helping us to reach your standards.
Let me offer some observations on the comments on the "boo-boos" you sent me. One took issue on how we filed the wire, by faulting us for moving a headline and not the story on the same split. The story cleared 45 minutes later,and I think a headline would be sufficient, if the story cleared within that time, unless it were bulletin or urgent material.
Another commented that "UPI missed this one!" on a story out of San Antonio. Yes, we missed it. Anyone who claims they don't miss stories now and then either is naive, or is trying to mislead someone. You may be aware now that we opened a San Antonio bureau this weekend, and I'm sure we won't be missing many from that area.
Another "boo-boo" comment on a story that really was an enterpriser in listing Texas schools involved in school busing lawsuits complimented us for "excellent information," then kicked us in the teeth by declaring we should have had it soon after Nixon's address on busing.
I am keenly aware of most of the errors on the wire. But I don't think anyone, broadcasters included, has ever come up with a fool proof method of putting out an absolutely perfect report day in and day out.
We are making staff changes so that the broadcast desk will have more continuity, weekdays as well as weekends. I also am considering some adjustments in our format. Your letter listed 11 things you indicated you thought we should toss ut for what you called updated general interest news.
Bob, every tem has a reason for being on the wire. Even the one-death traffic crash in Amarillo that you said was of no value to you. If you turn that around, and the man killed in Amarillo happens to be from Austin, then it becomes important to you. By the same reasoning, someone in Houston could care less.
This is what makes it so difficult to try to please everyone on the wire in a state the size of Texas. That and the fact that news judgment varies depending on what part of the state you live in.
You said there was not enough "significant" Texas news for early morning drive. You and I both know that news is not a consistent commodity--you can't make it happen on schedule. You have to use what's available, significant or not. What's news to one person may not be considered important by someone 300 miles away.
This is why we have variations in the Texas format--the Business Briefs (and believe me, many stations use them); the Mexican briefs for stations in heavy Mexican-American populated areas--San Antonio, El Paso, the Valley; the markets for farm oriented stations; the local forecasts for the small market stations that do not have a weather wire; the border state forecasts for stations with audiences in two or three states; the weekend fishing report (widely sponsored) and which moves late at night taking only five minutes' time.
Well, Bob, I'm sure this hasn't changed your mind. But I hope that it provides a better picture for you of some of our problems and the reasons for doing things as they are. We're more than willing to work with anyone with constructive ideas for improving the service--for the benefit of everyone.
Thank you for taking time to evaluate the wire. I hope you'll look at it with a more kindly attitude in the near future.
Sincerely, Jud Dixon
c: Bruce Barker, Midland; Mike Jay, Victoria