Paul Steinle's Missives

Here's one of the so-called "hotline" messages posted in 1988 by then-new UPI president Paul Steinle, who came in with the FNN takeover:

065m to: upi staff from: paul steinle re: hotline date: october 21 1988 10 am edt over the past eight months, major steps have been taken to make united press international the market-driven, financially viable news organization that we outlined in the upi/2000 business plan. since march, i believe that significant strides have been taken to restore the market credibility of upi as a well-run, quality news organization that expects to survive and prosper. -- component news products have been created, price and brought to market. for the first time in history, news agency customers have a choice in selecting the products they need. and, upi is the innovator. -- our sales force has been reorganized, and trained and focused as never before. -- our adminstrative and financial systems have been completely rebuilt around sound business policies and procedures. -- a newe senior management structure has been put in place, and seasoned newes and business managers have been recruited to join upi's veteran editorial management group in leadership roles. we have also taken important steps internally to improve this organization and to address our employees' needs: -- documented and management policy guidelines for upi's middle managers are being compiled and distributed by the human resources department for the first time. -- a one-year agreement has been reached with the wire service guild through july, 1989. -- upi's first set of documented wage guidelines for our foreign editorial employees was adopted and we adjusted their wages to make working overseass for upi more equitable with u.s. compensation. -- the company's first set of balanced and documented wage guidelines for our non-union employees was established and we adjusted the wages for many non-union employees whose compensation had not been raised for a considerable period. therefore this shift in edtorial emphasis is in a direct response to the expressed needs of our customers. over the past decade, the focus of our national life has shifted back to the state and regional levels. it is clear that in the states and regional marketplace we only have one major competitor -- the associated press. in all the other areas, our competiton includes ap and all the supplementals as well. so, it makes more sense to place our emphasis in a niche where the competition is clear and where we don't have to compete against our own clients. additionally, we believe that the information assembled on the state and regional level is also of greatest value to upi's non-media clients. therefore, by marshalling our editorial forces in state and regional coverage, we are serving the news media's greatest needs and at the same time we are positioning ourselves for selling this unique information to businesses and government agencies (non-media clients) as well. we are taking the following steps to implement the new focus: -- a new assistant managing editor for regional news (to be announced soon) will be appointed. -- five washington reporters are being reassigned to stay in the capitol and cover congress and the federal government from the perspective of specific states and regions of the country, reporting to the new assistant me and the regional editors. -- nine special news coverage teams, one based in each region of the country, will be designated by the regional editors. -- the regionally based sports and feature reporters are being reassigned to be supervised by upi's regional editors. -- a clear set of new state and regional coverage guidelines are being implemented that give priority to: -- major breaking local and regional news. -- state government news. -- local business news and agribusiness. -- local human interest news. -- science, health, the environment and other specialized news. -- comprehensive daybooks of important local events. -- local high school and local college sports. -- budgeting will be done from the state level. beginning in 1989, upi's editorial budgeting will be based on the states as a fundamental unit. state and regional managers will have a greater control over their own destinies and upi shall be able to reinvest rationally based on marketing data and sales information that originates from each state. more upi 10-21-88 10:24 acd
066m hotline 1st add in addition, one other initiative is underway which will affect editorial operations, and two more are being studied: -- the washington desk is being consolidated with the national desk to expedite filing, simplify scheduling and reduce desking staff requirements overnight and on weekends. -- we are studying the possibility of consolidating the national desk with the international desk to create a world desk for similar reasons. -- we are considering the adoption of a single, 24-hour news cycle to provide constantly updated news coverage to all customers in all time zones. at the same time we are announcing these changes, we must bring upi operations into line with our budget goals. we need a sound and predictable financial base from which to launch this new direction. and, we must also maintain financial credibility for our investors and for the news industry, which needs assurances that we are here to stay. as a result, the revitalization of upi's editorial products through this shift in emphasis to state and local news coverage and through these organizational changes will be accomplished at the same time that certain restructuring of upi's staff is undertaken. the restructuring will occur in areas outside of the state and regional news service. the primary purpose of the restructuring is to make our news operation more efficient and to focus our resources more rigorously on the news stories that our customers want to publish or broadcast. there will be some staff reduction to accomplish this restructuring, but it will be targeted in those areas or lines of business where we have documented that the marketplace has been less willing to support our investment of resources. overall staff levels will be targeted at or above the levels specified in our upi/2000 business plan last march, and actual layoffs to date shall not exceed the threshold of 150 persons announced at that time. because of heavy editorial commitments in 1988, and since the editorial department at upi was, relatively speaking, the largest unit of the company, the redirection has come to editorial last. until the research and documentation that was needed to compile the editorial guidelines for the company was completed in early september, the management of upi lacked key information about the specific allocation of our resources that was necessary for us to undertake such a major restructuring. under our upi/2000 plan, we promised in march that: "the customers are going to dictate what upi does -- and this will represent a significant change in thinking and behavior from the old wire-service approach. the initiatives we are undertaking today are in congruence with that commitment. based on the financial information we have assembled and the market feedback that we have collected, we shall continue to make reasoned decisions born of that commitment. upi has now become the dynamic market-driven organization we promised. we have begun steering a course to serve the needs of the marketplace and trimming our sails in those areas where the opportunities for growth have narrowed. in this manner, we can continue to operate as a great, worldwide news and information company with a competitive vision for the future that allows us to serve a rapidly changing marketplace. paul steinle upi 10-21-88 10:31 acd