Geimann Report XXI

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

UPI-Newser 12-24

(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.)

Pitter Captures Bosnian Tragedy

Zagreb correspondent Laura Pitter spent weeks working a story that is certain to dominate coverage of the bloody war in the republics that were Yugoslavia.

Pitter interviewed several Bosnian women who told her a harrowing tale of aggression that underscores the inhumanity that has taken hold in the war-ravaged republics of the Balkans.

Bureau manager Jonathan Landay, who heads UPI's coverage of the difficult war, described Pitter's work as a "five-hankie" story in a message.

In her piece, Pitter described how women slept 40 to a classroom, shared matresses and were fed bits of bread and splashes of water. Those camped near classroom doors got the meager provisions, and the women prisoners vied for the privileged spot.

Quoting one woman, Pitter wrote: "And, she says, they were raped - repeatedly, unceremoniously, systematically raped, sometimes by former neighbors and acquaintances, while their fellow inmates looked on.

"'I don't know what kind of abuses I didn't taste,' she remembers, her voice emotionless, distracted, as if to avoid the memory. 'If there was only one way left, the most cruel one, they would use it.'"

International Editor Andy Tully, polishing the story at home before moving it for Christmas weekend, messaged:

"i am at home now, at christmastide, and look toward the kitchen at my wife and 18-year-old girl as dinner is about to be served, and i want to weep after having read your story. oddly, i feel you have given me, jon landay, and all of us at upi (and of course our clients) a seasonal gift beyond price. pls forgive this maudlin msg, but i was profoundly moved by your story. it must have taken great courage for you to have researched and written it. our job of course is to tell the world what is wrong with it, and the world never listens. so what. keep shouting. and, again, thank you for the greatest yuletide gift of all. with the utmost sincerity, cheers. tully-waforn."

Pardon Me

UPI's well-grounded Washington crew responded Christmas Eve when word surfaced that lameduck President Bush was about to pardon several figures from the Iran-Contra probe.

Day editor Dave Rosso was quick to pick up a Washington Post story, moving about 200 words (with ampersand to hit all clients) then began preparing for the story.

Later in the morning, Rosso produced additional details and at 12:45 p.m., under Tom Ferraro's siner, we moved the first urgent on the Bush statement.

In Chicago, WBBM, the CBS owned-and-operated all-newser and a loyal and happy UPI subscriber, bulletined the pardons, quoting UPI. The network, which is temporarily without our service (although all CBS O&Os have UPI), caught up five minutes later.

An hour later, Washington produced breaking coverage of president-elect Clinton's final cabinet appointments, moving the story before Clinton had even finished his remarks.

Balman Gets Tan, Scoops In Somalia

State Department correspondent Sid Balman Jr. finally got UPI into Somalia last week, and his coverage resembled a non-stop round trip between various destinations in Somalia and a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.

For two days, Balman slept on the Mogadishu tarmac, safest place in town. He reported on troops securing Kismayu, a gateway of distributing vital food supplies, and saw soldiers distributing leaflets to win Somali support for Operation Restore Hope.

"Conditions are pretty austere," Balman reported, "but I'm getting a pretty good tan."

From Mombasa, he caught a morning relief flight and traveled to Somalia where he collected information about the relief operation.

A lack of communications forced Sid to wait until a late afternoon or evening flight returned to Mombasa where contacted UPI Johannesburg and dictated his stories, often to Patrick Collings.

His midnight dictation finished, he grabbed a few hours sleep before heading back to the airport and his next trip.

Determined to be the first with the news, Sid moved beyond the relative safety of areas occupied by U.S.-led forces and traveled to the large, well-armed town of Hoddur in southern Somalia.

Here clan gunmen, driven from the major towns by advancing U.N. troops, retained their jeep-mounted anti-aircraft artillery - known as "technicals" - as well as a variety of U.S. and Russian-made automatic weapons.

Despite competing against all odds, Sid told the world hours before his competition that U.S. and French troops would attempt to secure Hoddur Christmas morning.

He also filed an exclusive interview with one of Somalia's most powerful clan leaders about how the country's political system should be restructured.

"I know what hell is," Balman says, "It is spelled Somalia."

Care Marks Portugal Crash Coverage

The crash of a Dutch Martinair DC-10 at remote Faro, Portugal, showed UPI's reporting and editing at its best.

Although Madrid correspondent Giles Tremlett was trapped in Barcelona's morning traffic after an all-night drive from Madrid, newly hired Lisbon man Barry Hatton had filed a full-length lead on the 7:30 a.m. crash - by phone to London - by the time Tremlett reached him two hours later.

London desker Gavin Haycock grabbed the first story off radio even as Hatton was filing his dispatch.

Since most information came from local radio - and UPI filed hourly updates - we remained neck-and-neck with Reuters, AFP and EFE most of the day. Our greater rigor on numbers produced a more reliable story.

Reuters took a 'flier' early, quoting a local town official nowhere near the scene as putting the death toll at 80 to 90. We were built from nine to 15 deaths and 60 unnacounted for, but could get no-one to confirm the Reuters, AFP and EFE figures.

The next day, Hatton's good contacts helped UPI first to report the names of both pilots and complaints officials that Martinair had given an incomplete passenger list causing further problems.

Trenton Early Birds Catch the News

Politics being what it should have alerted Republican congressman first about signing a disaster declaration Dec. 18 for three storm-ravaged New Jersey counties.

David Kush, spokesman for Regot UPI before anyone, mainly because UPI was the only bureau open that early.

Kuch called back to check whether UPI mentioned his boss in the story and infohad tried AP but nobody was in. The first story filed before the first black hat moseyed in to open up in Trenton.

Christmas Eve, Day Radio Specials

UPI produced continuous news and music programming for affiliates to use Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

Specials include Larry Webb'ram on Christmas hits from the rock and pop eras, Bob Brill's 55-minute program on origins of Christmas carols with special guest Mason Williams, Howard Dicus' special on the different versions of Handel's "Messiah," a Christmas concert by the U.S. Air Force Band hosted by Tom Gauger, and an ecumenical Christmas congton, Ind., hosted by Dennis Daily. Daily's live three-hour broadcast ends with a midnight mass.

Next week, Dicus does his usual "Year in Review," but Cr of "The World As We Know It," is preparing a breezier, more subversive program that also looks back at the year now winding up.

Greg Haber and the UPI spofer up a "Sports Year in Review." We have plans for Pye Chamberlayne, Jack Anderson and Helen Thomas to do a special yearender edition of "UPI will do a special edition of "American Montage" which will review the year by asking some regular folks what the biggest events of the year in THEIR lives wday Wishes

Here are a few greetings that arrived this week from our bureaus:

-UPI's Baires bureau had a holiday party last Sunday, with an Argentine styl first time in about 25 years that a get together of that kind had been staged. (It's summer in Argentina.)

-Sergio Oliveira, editor in Rio: "greetings from r you a merry christmas. brazilian desk is glad to see we reach the end of the year in a very different mood from 91 and confident that 93 can offer really goodll of us. regards."

-From Wes Stuart, in Pierre, S.D., manager for communications: Warmest Holiday wishes to all the UPI family. To Comms, and admin, To contracts, collections to mention a few To all of the writers all tucked in their beds while visions of Pulitzers dance in their heads.

We're alive getting well in this Holiday season. And you are all part, the significanteace to and to yours Holiday cheers. May all of us prosper in forthcoming years - wes-fsd

-Greetings of the season and peace and prosperity (a lot and all in UPI. Chrs. Supon et Burns-TR

Let me add my best wishes for the holiday season and for a successful new year to all Unipressers, worldwide.

I al everyone for their hard work, dedication and perseverance during a very trying year. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays. Geimann