The New Unipresser

Here's the Sept. 5, 1989, edition of the in-house publication known then as The New Unipresser:

UPI Teamwork Pays Off in Giamatti Death Coverage

The sudden death last Friday of baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti caught everyone by surprise, but sure-handed Unipressers across the country showed why they're best under pressure.

When first word came in that Giamatti had been stricken by an apparent heart attack at his Massachusetts summer home in Martha's Vineyard, the national sports desk in New York and the World Desk in Washington sprang into action.

Sports deskers Jeff Shain and Fred Lief and sports editor Fred McMane pumped out the crisp leads for sports clients, all the while keeping the World Desk abreast of the latest developments.

UPI's first urgent story was artfully desked by Jeff Bater and moved on the national wire at 4:36 p.m., EDT, saying Giamatti suffered a severe heart attack and was taken to the hospital. Another lead followed reporting his condition as critical, and then at 5:26 p.m. UPI clients received the bulletin: Giamatti was dead.

The first Reuters story on Giamatti didn't move until 5:37 p.m.

The reaction to the former Yale president's death -- and it came in from everyone from George Bush to George Steinbrenner -- fit neatly into a sidebar.

At the UPI Radio Network, meanwhile, audio wizards Ken Robinson, Doug Levy and Donna McQuillan were busy reeling in the sound bites and information for update-hungry radio clients. Levy says the net got a big boost from Jay Sapir, net's HX manager who previously worked in Martha's Vineyard.

"He got confirmation of the death and interviews with people there," Levy says. "We were ahead of everybody. All the bureaus and all the stringers really came through.

The net was a full hour ahead of AP in feeding the Bush sound bite to clients.

Not to be outdone, Boston's Ken Franckling, Jim Upton and BH's newest staffer, John Gregg, tirelessly worked the phones and contributed to the growing story.

All the good work didn't go unnoticed. At 8:30 p.m. on CNN's prime time news, anchor Lou Waters interviewed San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Glenn Dickey about the impact of Giamatti's death. To start off the interview, Waters picked up and read the lead of a wire service dispatch as if to underscore the importance of the event. The story, Waters said, was by United Press International.

For the record, here's the breaking lead as crafted by Bater:

EDGARTOWN, Mass. (UPI) -- Baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti,
embroiled all season in the Pete Rose gambling scandal, died Friday of a heart
attack suffered at his summer home on Martha's Vineyard. He was 51.

Clean and to the point. And written under the gun -- when Unipressers shine brightest.


Covering the Colombian Cocaine War Is a Challenge

Editor's note: Tom Harvey, bureau manager in Santiago, was dispatched to Bogota to cover the outbreak of the "total war" between Colombian authorities and the drug cartels. He describes a "routine" day:

Walking to the UPI office last Saturday at 6:45 a.m., it was quiet with little traffic. Only a news conference with the national police commander was scheduled. It spelled quiet, too quiet.

Sure enough, a huge explosion barreled through the morning. A powerful car bomb killed one person and shook windows miles away.

Another day begins in Bogota.

The "cocaine war" is not one of open confrontation. The cartels pick their targets carefully then execute their plan, usually with results. They use bombs and quick hits.

For reporters, that means keeping ears constantly peeled to radio stations for tips on where the action is. It means early mornings in the office when something usually happens, and late night checks before sleeping.

With U.S. interest in the Colombian story high and the Bush administration rushing in aid, the competition sent in reinforcements too but don't have a 12-year UPI veteran Federico Fulleda. Using his vast experience in Colombia, his telephone and telex reaches into tiny villages and finds someone to tell us a U.S. government anti-narcotics plane was bombed on the ground while waiting repairs.

With a tip and a little patience, UPI also confirmed the Americans were evacuating the families of diplomats. Fulleda's urgent tipped off the high competitive local radio networks, which quickly followed the UPI break.

But landing here the Saturday after the cartels' declaration of "total war," the challenge was not just the news that breaks everyday. It was to put some perspective on the war while quickly learning the history of the cocaine battles, the people involved and what it will take for the government to win.

WIth local stringer Tom Quinn, we produced a feature package that moved for last weekend -- just before President Bush unveiled his anti-drug program.

The 1,000-word main lead looked at the long battle ahead for both Colombia and the United States. Quinn's sidebar outlined the most critical issue with the cartels: that of possible extradition to the United States of the drug kingpins. A list of prominent killings linked to the cocaine gangs also was included, along with short biographies of the top cartel figures.

Thomas Ferraro of the Washington staff topped the package with a roundup on Bush's drug program.


For Your Information

New UPI Business:

Williamsport, Pa., WGBE
Thornton, Colo., KDHT
Sun Valley, Calif., Armed Forces Radio-TV
New York, Chase Manhattan
Spokane, Wash., KSFC
Independence, Mo., Alex Sills Co.
New York, Esrac Publications
Dadeville, Ala., WAVD
Tampa, Fla., USF Oracle
California, Md., St. Mary's Today
Hackensack, N.J., WWDJ

Renegotiated Business

Albany, N.Y., State Assembly
Parkersburg, W.Va., WKYG/WXKX
San Diego, Calif., KPBS
Baltimore, Md., Afro-American
Vallejo, Calif., KNBA
Garden City, N.Y., WHPC
Indianapolis, Ind., Star & News
Kirksville, Mo., Express
New York, WOR
Jonesboro, Ark., KBTM/KJBR
Bluefield, W.Va., WHIS/WHAJ
Morrison, Colo., KWBI
Suffolk, Va., News Herald
Philadelphia Inquirer
Auburn, N.Y., WDWN
Columbia, Pa., News


Greer is Named Sales Person of Month for August

Paul Greer of Los Angeles has been named UPI sales person of the month for August.

Scott Hults, senior vice president for sales, said Greer was recognized for his "tenacity" in landing sales in newspapers, broadcasters and information services in Southern California.

"He is a very creative sales person, very energetic," Hults said.

Greer, 35, joined UPI last May after serving as a Gannett marketing executive.



Bob Martin/HC and Renate Dixon were married August 25 at City
Hall in Los Angeles. To everyone's surprise and relief, he took the entire
day off for the event, sources revealed.
Alex Curtis/Fairfax gave birth to a bouncing baby girl, Chelsea
Curtis, August 11. Mother and daughter are doing well.
Cheryl Yost/HF announced her engagement to Jim Shefcyk. The
wedding date has not been set.
Former HX photo staffer Roy Miller died September 2 in Florida.
Miller, 93, had a transmitter in his home and covered the Daytona races as
a stringer for UPI for many years.
The Pittsburgh bureau welcomed a new staffer, Sandra Hamm, on
September 10. Hamm comes to UPI from Mountaineer Park, where she was
director of PR, and WTRF in Wheeling, W.Va.
Michelle Rawson joined the crew at National Broadcast in Chicago on
September 1. She is a graduate of American University.
Bob Webster transferred to WA as the economics reporter from NXF
on September 3, replacing David Vesey who is on fellowship leave.
The new RBN editor for NXF is Paul Deckelman. Deckelman, who came
to UPI from Dow Jones, began work on September 5.


Austin Bureau Scores on Anti-Hazing Exclusive

The Austin bureau scooped rox and the rox-only Austin American-Statesman with the news that University of Texas fraternities had agreed for the first time to ban alcohol during their annual rush week.

The director of the Intefraternity Council told bureau manager Bob Lowry the fraternities wanted to shed their "Animal House" image, and that the 1986 hazing and alcohol-related death of a freshman pledge provided the impetus for the alcohol prohibition.

The Dallas Morning News, which is running a test of the UPI state report, displayed the story with Lowry's siner at the top of its Texas & Southwest section on Aug. 26.

UPI's two television clients in Austin also featured the story at the top of weekend newscasts.

The American-Statesman followed up the next week with a story attributed to an "announcement" it said was made the previous week.


Sweet/WH Wins Play With Exclusive Interview

When the Nebraska Supreme Court gave the law license back to former state attorney general Paul Douglas, Omaha bureau manager Jon Sweet came lup with an exclusive interview with Douglas. He told Sweet he had phone messages from nine reporters but decided to talk only to Sweet.

His story describing the former attorney general's personal turmoil ran on the front page of the Omaha World-Herald, which said in its own story on the actual court decision that Douglas could not be reached for comment.

Sweet also won a byline with the piece in the Lincoln Journal.


Watia/JB Hits on Green Bay Packer Exclusive

Green Bay, Wis., staffer Vic Watia beat everyone with a report Tuesday that Packers top draft choice Tony Mandarich and the team had agreed to money and were workinig on details before signing a contract.

Mandarich, an offensive lineman from Michigan State, had been holding out for a contract comparable to that offered the No. 1 pick in the draft, Troy Aikman. Both sides had been intransigent but started moving closer together in the past week.

Waitia got confirmation from Packer Vice President Tom Braatz that not only had Mandarich come to terms but that he was in Green Bay for a physical. The rox-affiliate local nupe, in a copyright story that came out after Watia's report, incorrectly said Mandarich still was in Michigan.


(Editor's note: This edition of The New Unipresser also included a photograph of UPI TV writer Joan (NX) Hanauer interviewing actor Raymond Burr in the NX office.)