Geimann Report XVIII

Internal report to UPI employees circa 1992 from former UPI executive Steve Geimann:

UPI-Newser 12-4

(This file is regularly updated for all to read. Our goal is a fresh edition every Friday. Your contributions are needed. We need editorial, sales and people items. Please send them to Geimann-WA via nzm.)

Landay, UPI Yugo Team Face Daily Risks

Covering a war is no easy task, especially when it's in a foreign land.

For more than a year, a civil war that has changed the map of Europe and claimed thousands of lives, including a few journalists, has dominated the lives of UPI's tireless staff in what was Yugoslavia.

UPI Belgrade Bureau Chief Jonathan Landay has, working against great odds, developed a network of correspondents that has been able to get reports from nearly every part of the country.

Kevin Sullivan, a correspondent last based in Singapore, arrived on the scene in Sarajevo less than two months ago to cover Bosnia, where most of the action has been centered and where most of the casualities have occurred.

This week, Sullivan and more than 2,000 civilians were pinned down by the fierce fighting in Otes, hiding in basements and makeshift bomb shelters. Returning to Sarajevo, he said: "eye just back from otes, where eye got stuck for more than 12 hours wednesday. eyed planned on a three to four hour visit. here's what eye got. cheers."

He filed 800 words describing artillery, mortar, tank and small-arms fire that racked the village 6 miles from Sarajevo, as Serbian forces tried to smash into the Bosnian capital in a tank and infantry assault.

The story reported: "A 12-hour visit Thursday to Otes found Serbian gunners loosing blizzards of high explosives, blasting an apartment complex in the village center and setting homes aflame across a swath of surrounding farmland."

Landay says: "For three months, the U.N. aid workers were blocked by Serbian militamen and protesters from delivering humanitarian supplies to the besieged Muslim Slav town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"When the first U.N. convoy of the war finally entered the war-ravaged town last Saturday to the cheers and tears of tens of thousands, UPI was there. Rox was not.

"I spent four days covering the convoy's attempts to reach the town from Serbia, sleeping in hotels that lacked heat and had dead mice in the beds.

"First we were blocked by hostile Serbian militiamen; then by hundreds of enraged, abusive Serbian women and children. Finally, political pressure forced an end to the blockades and the convoy drove through crowds of spitting, curse-hurling Serbs, across a 600-yard no-man's land and into Srebrenica.

"Even the U.N. military officers' eyes teared from the exhuberant reception given the first people the tens of thousands of Muslims had seen in eight months of hardship.

"We found a town starved, bombed, freezing, but defiant. Doctors were amputating limbs without anaesthetics or antibiotics. Incredulously, the convoy carried no medical supplies.

"It was the most poignant, heart-wrenching story I have covered in the 18 months of warfare that has convulsed former Yugoslavia.

"Aside from an L.A. Times stringer among the handful of foreign correspondents, UPI was the only American print medium on the trip."

Additional equipment, including communications gear to get the story out, should be on the way shortly.

UPI Covers Venezuelan Coup Bid

UPI Chester desk, based in Caracas, had twin problems on Thanksgiving: an attempted coup and no communications.

Rumors of a second coup against Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez abounded on Thanksgiving.

At 5 a.m., after rebels took over state television Channel 8 and began broadcasting a casette encouraging the population to join the uprising, Carlos Silva Valero, editor of the Spanish-language newswire, called in the first urgent to UPI Mexico desker Jose Carlos Martinez.

Then he called other Unipress staffers in Caracas, including veteran Carlos Rojas Lindsay, to meet in the downtown office as heavy shooting broke out all over the city.

About an hour after arriving in the office, an apparent communications blockage rendered UPI inoperable. For more than 24 hours, the UPI staff worked around the clock to transmit news by telex or barely operational telephones.

A dawn-to-dusk curfew obliged Silva, Carlos Rojas Linsday and Nestor Rojas to sleep in the office. The veterans took advantage of the forced work schedule to fill dozens of screens with analysis, preparing for the moment the communications would be restored.

UPI English staffer Anne Harrison, blocked by a closed airport en route back from Lima, Peru, called in details from Aruba - where she monitored Venezuelan radio while marooned for 20 hours. In Mexico, Laurence Iliff and Andrew Downie worked long hours translating the Spanish copy from Caracas.

Also on Saturday, Chile veteran correspondent Enrique Gutierrez Aicardi arrived to give valuable relief to the overworked Spanish-language staff.

Sapir Story Launches Debate

"Mo' babies, mo' babies, mo' babies." That's the slogan of a Midwestern group that encourages black men to have children. The Milwaukee man who founded the group feels the murder rate of big U.S. cities amounts to genocide and wants black men to have more kids to propogate the race.

UPI Radio Chicago Correspondent Jay Sapir knew the brief audio report he filed on the story would be controversial. "I figured any radio station that wanted to liven up a talk show could just run my spot and sit back and wait for the phones to ring."

UPI affiliate KJLH Los Angeles, an urban format station owned by Stevie Wonder, did just that.

KJLH News Director Carl Nelson phoned Sapir to tell him that the phones rang off the hook. "Spike Lee called in to discuss it," Sapir reports. "Arsenio called. He wants that guy on his show, like TONIGHT."

On wireside, Lori McGinnis-UC several months ago heard a radio interview with the man. McGinnis offered up an interview with the guy, but the sto return for an appointment to discuss signing up for SelectNEWS. Let's all do the same when we have something good and different.

Thomas First

On Jan. 1, UPI White House Bureau Chief Helen Thomas becomes the first woman president of the Gridiron Club, a journalistic organization establiomas will be introduced 12/5 at a black tie affair in Washington.

Thomas was the first woman to join the elite all-male club in 1975 which is limited to 60 about a dozen women have become members since then.

The Gridiron Club holds its annual spring dinner, which has been attended by presidents and top Washingtoe its inception. Members satirize their VIP guests in song and dance. The lampooning is designed "to singe but never burn." Thomas has performed in many of thmas joined then United Press in 1943 as a radio writer and editor for the old Washington City News wire. She began covering the federal departments in the 195the White House in 1961.

She was president of the Women's National Press Club, the first woman president of the White House Correspondents Association and fer of the National Press Club.

Thomas has received several awards, including the National Press Club's "Fourth Estate Award;" the Allan Neuharth award; the ite Award, the Columbia School of Journalism award and the Bob Considine Award.

Harris Chases Tragic Story

It looked like any normal play you see unnday in a pro football game. Two tacklers were converging on the quarterback ready to sack him for a big loss.

Only this time something tragic occurred.

The quarterback fumbled and as he went to retrieve the ball he ducked and the two linemen crashed into each other, unleashing more than 500 pounds of force. One of the tacklers, Dennis Byrd, suffered a broken neck and lays in a New York Hospital not knowing if he will ever walk again.

Lisa Harris-NXS, covering the game, stayed on top of the story from the time Byrd hit the ground and was carried off on a stretcher. She journeyed back and forth between the Jets' training camp on Long Island to the hospital on Manhattan's ugiving us daily updates on Byrd's condition and the prognosis for his recovery.

She even game up two scheduled comp days to stay with the story. It will be quite while, though, before we know if the story has a happy ending.

Hardin Gets Shooting Story Right

Despite the disadvantage of working with a staff of one on Sbureau managed to scoop ROX and several area papers.

UPI was apparently the first to report that a policeman in a small southern Indiana town was not shot bya manhunt, but had actually fallen on some wire and punctured his check during a scuffle with the suspect.

Everyone else was reporting the officer shot. BurHardin called Indianapolis News weekend editor Mark Ridolfi, the son of a long-time Unipresser, to inform him ROX story they carried in an early edition was wwas pulled.

Bickler-UC Becomes Wieland-UC After Nuptials

A familiar Milwaukee, Wis., sign-off changed Nov. 14 when the former Jeanne Bickler became Jeanne Wieland. Her new husband, Jim Wieland, is a commercial photographer with Ferderbar Studios in Milwaukee. The Wielands honeymooned in northern California and San Franco meet up with SX's Bill Murray, but their own free day fell on a typically busy day for Bill.Congrats, best wishes.