Internal report to UPI employees circa 1992 from former UPI executive Steve Geimann:
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Your Spanish Eyes On The Prize
The selection of Rigoberta Menchu for this year's Nobel Peace Prize was no surprise to Armando Trull, the new manager of UPI Radio Noticias, our Spanish language radio network.
"It made sense," Trull said. "In the 500th year since Columbus sailed to the New World, who better than a woman who has fought for the rights of native peoples in Latin America?"
Trull interviewed a human rights expert in Spanish the day BEFORE the announcement so Noticias was ready when Menchu did win. By then Trull was busy chasing a phone number for Menchu. He got it, and got her on tape, that afternoon.
LatAm staffers John Otis in Panama City and Daniel Adler, now in Mexico City, also were not surprised. A perspot prepared by Alder based on an Otis feature moved 10 minutes after the announcement.
Alder had predicted correctly she would win. Mexico manager Edwin Vidal says he thought it was going to be Cuban human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez "and lost 50 thousand pesos ($15) on a bet."
Elkoussy Braves Quake Damage
The massive earthquake that devastated Cairo this week also caused serious damage to the UPI offices, which were downtrodden enough.
Bureau manager Bahaa Elkoussy, determined to get the story out, not only filed ahead of competing agencies, but continued to file while other tenants fled.
Elkoussy says the building must be over 100 years old and because of serious lack of maintenance, as is the case with many such old buildings in the city, it is in a "pathetic condition."
"Now, less than 24 hours after the powerful quake, eye think we do not only want to move out, we simply have to move out and save our lives," Elkoussy reported. "Large cracks have developed in the buro rooms and aging structure, and other tenants have either stayed away from their offices and buisnesses or are working on moving out."
Executive Editor Steve Geimann directed Elkoussy to find new quarters as soon as possible, and to put his own safety ahead of getting the news out.
But when a second quake hit, Elkoussy was back in action, even though he and eight others "acted as typical human beings not at all used to quakes. we simply fled the office and ran downstairs from the third floor to the street.
"About ten minutes later eye realize eye was also a Unipresser and had to cover the story so eye ignored everybody's admonition not to go back to the building everyone considered fragile even before the quake, and 15 minutes after tremors, first take of story was filed, kicking off a tedious job that kept me in buro and around some affected sites and necessary sources about 14 to 16 hours a day since monday."
Efforts are well underway to find Elkoussy, and UPI, a new office in Cairo.
China Voting Poses New Issues
China is having its own version of an election season - the Communist Party's 14th national congress. The analogy with a major U.S. party convention has been made - a totally scripted program, preordained leadership nominations and even colorful hats (worn by ethnic minority delegates) - but then again, the Communists have no competition.
Bureauy chief David Schweisberg reported:
Correspondent Nick Driver, playing a good game of hide and seek with the secret police who follow us around town on motorcycles and vintage Benzes with smoked windows, came up with several breaks in the days before the congress, including extra security precautions around Beijing and warnings to keep an eye on college students for any flicker of protest.
Since the opening we have been trying to put the perspective on all the propaganda, noting the party has outdone itself trying to justify its capitalist economics with its communist hold to power. We have reported the party has even enlisted Mao Tse-tung, with a party official saying Mao would not be spinning in his grave but would be pleased.
Covering the meeting is an exercise in wheel-spinning. All the major decisions are made in advance by the feeble octogenarians who still actually run the country, then kept secret until they are announced. The carefully staged press conferences are gleaned for anything that might resemble news.
We have also all been hampered by the party's inscrutable decision to put the media center in a hotel on the far west side of town, about 45 minutes away at rush hour from where the meeting is being held.
Reporter John Leicester, however, also came up with a moving piece on the dark side of the congress - that since it began, police have been rounding up poor, homeless rural folk who have been waiting, in some cases for years, at a government petition office to redress past grievances. They are viewed as an embarrassment.
In the meantime, like the U.S. presidential campaign played waiting for Perot, we are all waiting for Mr. Deng. Deng Xiaoping is the star of the meeting, but the big secret is whether he will show up.
U.S. Politics Dominated by Debates
UPI reporters in St. Louis, Atlanta and Richmond, Va., this week worked with Washington reporters in covering the two presidential and one vice presidential debates.
Credit goes to White House reporter Tom Ferraro for assembling a panel of six academic debate coaches who rated the performance after each encounter and discussed their findings. Tom's stories moved just hours after each debate.
Dangerous Duty in Lima
On Oct. 13, three members of the guerrilla group Movimiento Revolucionario Tpac Amaru (MRTA) bursted into UPI's office in Lima, where they intimidated Peruvian desker Vidal Silva and sent a proclaimation, criticizing the government of Alberto Fujimori and expressing their rebuffing of the arrival of Columbus to America.
This was the second time that gued found many Kilnwilling to talk, but a few did. "You don't take a scab off.
"It starts bleeding again," said 60-year-old Jeannie Isdale, who escaped Hennard's gunfire in thece still cannot explain what set off Hennard's fury that day. Maybe they never will.
NX Stringer Hits Books When Planes Go Down
Attorney Robert Rot knows a lot about aviation, and aircraft. His contributions to the UPI news report in the wake of major aviation disasters have provided details and background uother sources.
His latest test came a week ago Sunday, when an El Al cargo jet from Amsterdam crashed a few miles from the airport, touching off a fireball tan apartment complex. The death toll is still uncertain.
Soon after the crash, he consulted aviation books and began seeking 747 pilots. His interviews reveal between the El Al crash and that of United Flight 811 nearly two years earlier.
So, while Reuters rushed to the wire with a story saying that with two engineking it back to the airport was an 'impossible task,' we had the facts to prove it had been done before. We also had QUALIFIED analysis to explain the specific incident and why it was different.
Jerry Kronenberg on the overnight NTL desk provided advice and relayed questions to Jerusalem.
Martin Expands Bedroom
Pennslyvania State Editor Skip Martin is a longtime Unipresser with domestic and international experiences in both news and sales. For the past two ed manage things in his state and New Jersey.
But Skip is versitile, too:
My Spanish wife and I have been members of the Circulo since it's founding in 19ughter also studies flamenco dancing and marched in the parade with other dancers. My wife currently sits on the junta, or board of directors, of the circulo ae.
Last June another junta member, the lady I worked with to whom I once gave a picture I had drawn, said, "Hey, you like to draw. Design us a float." So I dir idea, and then with a committee it got modified, changed, redesigned and finally built.
Othe circulo membrers did the actual construction. Because I didn'nd don't speak English with an accent (except my native Ga. accent) they also asked me to liaise with the city and parade organizers, who set up shop on a few office.
Although the parade went well, the local television cut to a commerical when the Spanish float and group marched by, and the controversy over that iI'm keeping my head down.
Downholders Plan for November Meeting
All Unipressers are invited to The Downhold Club's reunion Friday, Nov. 13, in New YTerrace Ballroom - 24 Fifth Ave. at 9th St. - from 6:30-9:30 p.m. EDT. The tab is $35 per person, which covers an open bar and hors d'oeuvres. Reservation to Dottie Brooks, PR Newswire, 150 East 58th St., NY, NY 10155-0097. Fred and Dottie can be contacted at (212) 832-9400. Deadline is Nov. 9.