Geimann Report III

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

UPI-Newser 1-22

(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.)

Company Update

Two veteran Unipressers are on the move as the company rebuilds.

Robert A. Martin, our vice president in London and former Los Angeles bureau manager, becomes managing editor, working in Washington. Robert Kieckhefer, managing editor since October 1991 and a longtime editor, manager and salesman, becomes vice president for editorial development, a new position that will be critical to our future.

Martin will be in charge of the Universal desk, sports and financial reports, the Washington federal report and state reports. His task will involve the continued improvements in our news report to make it invaluable for broadcasters while remaining useful to newspapers.

He begins Feb. 8, working in World Headquarters. All U.S. regional editors and wireside department heads will report to Martin in Washington.

Martin joins Andy Tully, who returned to UPI as International Editor, as the top managers at Headquarters. Both report to Executive Editor Steve Geimann.

Kieckhefer will head up our efforts to develop new products and new markets that will assure the company of a future. His efforts will result in further restructuring of the way UPI collects, edits and distributes information. Such change is essential if we are to remain competitive.

Last year, we began this restructuring when we revised coding and filing to tailor our report for the bulk of our business. Earlier, we developed FaxNEWS and SelectNEWS to provide options for customers interested in our service.

But we must do more. The information business is changing all the time. Many other news companies have managers dedicated to developing new ways of delivering the news.

It's time UPI took a similar step and aggressively created its own opportunities. Kieckhefer and Martin will be assuming tremendous responsibilities as we continue the rebuilding of the company.

Inauguration Coverage Sparkles

Wireside, Radio Network, Photo, Broadcast and even the Administration Department got involved in UPI's coverage of the Clinton inauguration.

Nearly every reporter, photographer and editor participated in the coverage, from the early morning prayer service, to the parade to the dozen presidential balls scattered around town.

On the National Broadcast Desk, Mike Kirkland and Mary Ann Akers remained on top of the proceedings with bulletins, takeouts and special inauguration headlines.

A lot of preparation went into UPI's coverage, with hours spent by Radio Chief Engineer Sam Brown, Bureau Chief Frank Csongos and photographer Leighton Mark, who made sure UPI had its badges.

Then, on Wednesday, Jan. 20, reporters, photographers and radio staff fanned out to cover the story in words, sound and pictures. UPI Radio chief Howard Dicus, in a sporty, wide-brimmed hat, headed to the Hill to co-anchor Radio's coverage with Pye Chamberlayne.

Gretchen Georgiadis and Tara McArdle, from 9th floor administration, helped, ferrying film from the parade route back to the office for developing.

By the end of the day, UPI had produced thousands of words, several hours of programming and dozens of color photographs of the passing of power from one generation to the next.

Clinton Flacks Fumble

But the day Clinton took office, his press relations soured.

At the White House, veteran Helen Thomas discovered the longtime access to the press secretary and communication director's offices had been cut off minutes after the new administration took over. She protested verbally.

"I've been here since Kennedy, and that door hasn't -- those steps have never been blocked to us, and the -- and the press secretary's office has never been off-limits. Ever" Thomas told George Stephanopoulos, the new communications director.

Later, in a story about the first day on the job, Thomas Ferraro wrote: the "George Stephanopoulos, the young voice and fresh face of the Clinton administration, held his first White House news briefing looking like an altar boy and sounding like a school master."

The White House stumbled again when the press office did not follow past procedure and put in a conference call early Friday to the major wires about the withdrawal of Attorney General-designate Zoe Baird.

Press secretary Dee Dee Myers did call UPI at 12:30 a.m., saying an announcement was coming by fax but did not disclose the subject. The fax never arrived, causing delay in getting the story.

When the desk called the White House, there was no press duty officer. The switchboard refused to put us through to Myers. TV networks seeking access to the White House grounds were barred.

Stephanopolous agreed to meet with media representatives to discuss the matter Monday.

Earlier, UPI photographers at the State and Defense department discovered the new administration had changed the rules and where once all four major wire services had access to photo opportunities, not only one.

After hurried consultations, Newspictures General Manager Vincent Mannino said, all four agencies boycotted the decision and did not shoot pictures of, for example, Defense Secretary Les Aspin meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

There was one good note. UPI won a coin toss and became the first wire service to meet the new Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

On his first day, Christopher wanted to meet the State Department press. It was decided, however, that the event would be handled by a press pool. It seemed unusual that an invitation to meet the State Department press corps would be restricted to a select few.

So the various mediums gathered and decided among themselves who would attend. UPI's Sid Balman and the AP and Reuters reporters - coins in hand - gathered in the State.

Hepburn Death Tests Desk

The death this Audrey Hepburn was a test of resourcefulness for the Universal Desk, and night editor Bill Parkinson.

Working alone, Parkinson learned of the death through a message that a local television station was reporting the 63-year-old's death in Switzerland.

"eye called our UN man and told him to get confirmation. Meantime attempts to reach Switzerland (we didn't know where she lived there) were unproductive.

"Based on broadcast rpts eye worked up a lead here o filing our UN man called back saying UNICEF had confirmed the death.

"We put three grafs on the wire unistyle with the death, then had 600 filed 15 minutes later with quotes, background, services, survivors and good quotes from celebrities in from Roger Bennett et Bureau Manager Valerie Kuklenski. "there were thrrough the night and had around 900 for the onite sked. never did reach switzerland but the job got done."

UPI Sole Witness as Poe Tradition Fades

BR manager Nancy Kercheval stayed up all night this week to observe a ceremony, of sorts, that has been replayed for years.

This year, Kercheval and UPI became only news organization (Life was first two years ago) to join the Poe watch, where a few select hang out overnight on his birthday to watch for the mysterious vise three red roses and cognac.

Nancy reports: "We were allowed to watch. Other media requests have been turned down flat -- mostly because they didn't trust turn the event into a media circus.

"These guys are real serious about protecting the identity of the man. the old man, hunched over and limping and wearingcoat and black hat, finally showed up at 5:05 a.m. and left, for the first time ever, a note indicating he was passing the torch.

"UPI probably saw the end of the tradition that has added to the mystery and intrigue surrounding edgar allan poe."

Poe, of course, lived and wrote in Baltimore.

Kercheval Scores on Escaped

When escaped killer Dontay Carter was apprehended, UPI had it on the wires as he was being led to the police van. Pox were real happy and grateful to confirm the apprehension. Nancy Kercheval-BR.

Carter escaped through the bathroom window of the judge's chambers when guards let him lock the door. They thought he wanted privacy. He escaped by jumping 7-feet to the ground and bolting.

He was caught 'cause one of the women he kept calling had caller i-d and she saved the number. The cops traced it and surround the building. Carter, meanwhile, hid under a bed to try to escape.

A new home for Arely

Reporter Arely Muoz has come to Mexico City bureau to help with desking and reporting. During her first week at the largest capital city of the world, she helped bureau chief Edwin Vidal, chief editor Eva de Vallescar and mexican desker Gina Sandoval.