Memo from the M.E. (Dec. 14-20, 1985)



Memo from the M.E. (News Coverage from United Press International: Dec. 14-20, 1985)

To:      All Staff
From:  Ron Cohen, Managing Editor

Positively, Mr. Gallagher: Absolutely Mr. Green

Financial editor Dottie Brooks notes a new business byline paying off big dividends for UPI.

The name is Don Gallagher, who a couple of months ago left behind the "glamour" of a TV producer's job to lay to rest a "persistent regret-- not getting that first job in print."

That "first print job" has produced, along with solid spot business reporting for NXF, a widely played bizprofile on Jerry Stiller and Ann Mearer, "the comedy team that makes laughter sell," as one paper headlined the feature on the pair's refreshing commercials.

Gallagher's latest is an easy-reader on a heavy topic, merger mania (stashed in nfh105-hfh106)

Dottie also lauds one of the many non-business staffers whose enterprise adds to the business features report -- Tom Green of Seattle for his November Bizworld on the West Coast shipping industry and his upcoming Bizworld on Boeing -- the world's leading maker of commercial aircraft which set company sales record in 1985 against the deadly drumbeat of fatal air crashes.

Atop the List

Jeffrey MacDonald, former Green Beret doctor convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters in North Carolina in 1970, is at a federal prison 25 miles east of Austin.

Bureau manager Bob Lowry did a long feature on MacDonald a year ago that won extensive national play, and the two have kept in close touch.

The paid off three times this year -- when MacDonald became ill and was taken to a hospital, and when he was beaten by fellow inmates who apparently mistook him for another prisoner.

The third time came this week. DA desker Debbie Wormser quickly alerted Lowry when a federal appeals court in Virginia denied a motion for a new trial, and Lowry's phone call to MacDonald was answered within a few minutes. Bob coupled it with quotes from a MacDonald supporter in HC for a quick reaction sidebar.

The warden told Lowry that MacDonald had a long list of reporters who sought reaction on Wednesday's ruling -- but UPI was first on his list.

Details, Details

When Mafia "Capo de Capi Big Paul Castellano was rubbed out in front of Sparks steak house on East 46th Street, NX Metro included the exact location in the story offered for trunks.

It got deleted, however, in favor of "Midtown Manhattan" -- an egregious cut, indeed.

Millions of readers have visited Manhattan, and identifying the street and telling what it was near would have made the story hit closer to home.

Moral: you probably aren't going to catch many readers if you pinpoint a location in West Orange, N.J. -- but you will in Manhattan, Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, London, Paris and a couple of other burgs.

Anything you can do to make the reader -- and the newspaper editor -- get personally closer to a story . . . do it.

Lead of the Week

A fast $25 will be winging across the Atlantic shortly to Phil Williams.

His LOTW:

Bonn (UPI) -- Movie director Wolfgang Petersen has just created hell on earth. The bill was $25 million.

That was 20th Century-Fox's investment in his latest project -- to bring to life in cuckoo-clock Bavaria the make-believe terro planet Firene IV.

Shooter Gibson

Greg Gibson of Raleigh was named Tarheel "Photographer of the Year" by the North Carolina Press Photographers Association.

Greg won the picture story competition and place in three other categories.

Nice goin', Greg.

Classy Writing

Margaret Lillard and Sara McLain teamed up to handle the aftermath of the Gander plane crash, and fashioned this lovely lead:

Fort Campbell, Ky. (UPI) -- Anguished relatives of 248 solders who died in last week's Newfoundland plane crash sought comfort Monday from President Reagan, who whispered over and over, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" to sobbing wives and mothers.

Good News from Badger-Land

Lance Herdegen this week signed the 17,000-circulation Beloit Daily News away from Rox. And this paper, plus four more coming aboard in 1986 gives UPI 33 percent of the papers in Wisconsin -- a development unmatched for a decade.

Killer Hutchins

Stacy (WA Metro) Hutchins, covering the gang murder trial of six, battled with a Rox reporter over a phone when the verdicts rolled in. He had the first foot in the door of the phone booth, but Hutchins lunged at the phone and grabbed the receiver. He protested that he was there first, but when Stacy threatened to "get ugly," he skulked off to another booth.

Log Rolling

Shortly after the first of the year, we will lay down some new ground rules to redouble our efforts to make the daily logs more meaningful.

But to show that logs aren't everything, Religion Writer David Anderson was told this week by the Laymen's National Bible Committee that their service turned up 93 clips of a story that went unlogged nationally.

Beating up on Grandma

Indiana State Editor Gina Hills reports that IA received a tip former Gov. Otis Bowen had been sworn in privately as Health and Human Services secretary -- as the Friday night prep sports crunch approached.

IA staffers hit the fones hard for a hectic hour of "literally dozens of dead-end calls -- including a call to a dead man (who, needless to say, couldn't help!) -- before getting the tip confirmed."

Our story rolled quickly -- beating the sports crunch by a wee bit and the co-op, which relied on the first edition of the IA paper, by two hours.

Schiff-Less
Wednesday he was sentenced to three more years for tax evasion, but was allowed to seek psychiatric treatment. HF moved advancers both cycles the day before, including quotes from lawyers and statistics on tax cheats from the IRS.

HFP's Frank Lorenzo staked out the federal courthouse and kept the desk updated as the hearing dragged on over Schiff's mental state. Advisories kept editors abreast, and an urgent moved at 12:01 p.m., when sentence was pronounced.

Our story for Thursday AMs, accompanied by a photo showing a weary Schiff heading for psychiatric treatment, swept the logs 10-0.

Where Have You Gone, Roger Maris?

Sports Editor David Tucker reports UPI was hugely preferred on the death in Houston and funeral in Fargo of Roger Maris, author of baseball's most aserisked record -- 61 homers.

It was a fine effort from first to last, and Tucker offered special praise for Mike Rabun, who wrote the breaking leads and writethrus from DA; Gerry (NXS) Monagan, who put together the spot reaction; and Carrie (MS) Muskat, who covered the funeral.

Muskat did some nice color reporting and writing, including this memorable quote from the reverend's eulogy:

"Some might say he struck out in his final time at bat. But I don't think so. I think of it as a base on balls, a free pass to heaven."

Muskat, above and beyond the call of duty, sat in the church and punched into her Radio Shack the text of the eulogy by Maris' former teammate Bobby Richardson -- which so cheered the NX Times and Newsday that they promised to run the whole thing Sunday.

And we made a non-subscriber happy, too.

Denny Hamilton in Gainesville, where Maris had been living, was told by the news director of WCJB that "AP had done nothing but play ping-pong on Maris' death, getting his birthplace wrong once and the burial date wrong three times."

Denny brought a copy of our obit to the news director, who was so pleased, Hamilton said, that "he threw AP's obit in the trash and used ours."

Our Far-Flung Bureaus (Asia)

Reports Paul Anderson in Hong Kong:

"UPI-Asia scored some good wins against the usual insurmountable odds while trying to juggle the far-flung staff to cover bases left vacant by holidays, illness and all the usual year-end gremlins.

"Most attention focused on the Phillippines, where Hong Kong's Denholm Barnetson arrived recently to give a little breathing room to the dynamic duo of Fernando del Mundo and Jack Reed, going nonstop for months with no end in sight until well after the February elections.

"Right in the middle of Cory Aquino's opening electoral challenge to Marcos, a crucial supreme court ruling on the legality of the scheduled snap election, and the usual insurgencies, a crowded ferry went down south of Manila with 200 aboard. Jack Reed took every cycle, including 12-1 in Thursday AMs.

"Tokyo's Marie Okabe racked up 10-0 over three cycles on safety and management problems besetting Japan Air Lines since the August crash. It tied in nicely with her big takeout for next week on the woes of JAL."

Our Far-Flung Bureaus (Europe)

Reports Barry James in London:

"Some of the best writing was Chuck Mitchell's running copy and fine analysis on the peace agreement between Uganda's government and the National Resistance Army.

Brenda Boyle was solidly atop developments in Southern Africa, including a mine explosion on the border and the subsequent funeral, plus reports of a fresh incursion into Angola, complemented by reporting out of Lisbon from Sandy Sloop.

"Steve Holland and Bill Beacon kept up a steady flow of well-backgrounded and nicely written copy on the Nantes court hijacking, including frequent credit on CNN.

"Moscow led in feature production with a lovely one from Jack Redden on photocopiers in the Soviet Union and two from Anna Christensen on the loosening of Soviet TV and on 'the year of the spies.'

"Moscow also had a nice piece on the publication of poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko's appeal for an end to lies and censorship. Moscow got the original and found his most critical comments expunged in the officially sanctioned version."

Teddy the Unready

Kennedy. The magic name spread rapidly around WA about 5 p.m. Thursday, with rumors Edward Kennedy would, at 5:55 p.m. in Boston, remove himself from a White House run in 1988. WA and BH rushed to check, BH confirming quickly from two television stations Kennedy had bought time to make the announcement. Ruth (BH) Youngblood reported, Clay Richards wrote, and John Frandsen edited in Washington.

Richards also provided an analysis, Sean McCormally, a perspot and Steve Gerstel reaction with big help from KT, which chipped in with Mario Cuomo. BH kept the story going Friday, covering Kennedy's news conference. For the weekend Gerstel, who has followed Kennedy since Teddy first came to WA, put together a reminiscence and Richards an inside look at the effect on the 1988 political picture.

Cax Primer

While bureaus across the eastern half of the nation worked like crazy on the crash of a military charter in Gander, WA also got the job of running a casualty list. The approximately 250 names came out in bunches at odd hours over three days from the Pentagon. WA deskers Tony Miller, Wendy Zentz and Anne Saker kept track of all the names. The result: play across the land, including the NX Times and WA Post. Read Saker's primer for handling such lists, in ngh212.

We Feel Like a Million Bucks

A lovely Christmas party at World Headquarters was highlighted Friday by a short ceremony in which Mario Vazquez-Rana turned over to Luis Nogales a blow-up of a check for $1 million.

"We are already at this early beginning a million times better off than we were three years ago," Nogales joked.

What a difference a year makes.

Letter of the Week

When Central Division Operations Manager Michele Barlett wrote to the South Dakota Broadcasters Association apologizing for owing back dues, she got this reply:

"Re your letter regarding financial difficulties UPI is facing and desire to rejoin the Association when conditions allow, we have not dropped UPI from our Association and do not intend to.

"As to the dues, we will not worry about them.

"UPI is too important to us and the industry to let temporary problems interfere.

"With best wishes for the future.

"Verl Thomson, Executive Secretary."

Holiday Cheer

With this issue, Memo from the M.E. takes a break.

I want to wish everyone the happiest of holidays.

But I cannot let 1985 end without a few personal words.

I am into my 25th year as a Unipresser, and needless to say, it has been the most traumatic and difficult.

But, in many ways, it also has been the most memorable and rewarding.

Only because of you Unipressers, who stuck it out and busted your backsides even when the outlook was darkest, we have been part of a miracle -- the salvation of a wire service; new life breathed into our ideal, our dream.

UPI owes each of you a debt that can never be repaid.

So does everyone who reads a newspaper, everyone who listens to a radio, everyone who watches a TV newscast.

So does everyone in our business.

You are heroes all, and I salute you with genuine awe and deep affection.

Ron