Geimann Report VII



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

UPI-Newser 6-19

(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

UPI turns 85 this weekend.

It is a milestone we will celebrate as Leon H. Charney, the New York real estate investor who stepped forward last week, nears a decision on making a formal bid to the company.

We will reach the milestone after one of the most frenetic weeks in recent company history. Less than 24 hours after a bankruptcy court rejected the substantially revised offer from U.S. Media Corp., Charney stepped forward with operating cash and the intent to make a deal.

Many other potential bidders also called World Headquarters to express interest in the company. But UPI's agreement with Charney gave him exclusive rights - until June 22 - to work out a deal.

Charney has held two meetings with the Washington editorial staff this week, and has been on the telephone with a variety of other investors, consultants and potential partners to help the company remain in business.

Charney also met Wednesday and Thursday with former UPI executive Bob Goldner, who represented the National Postal Lottery of the Netherlands. Charney Friday announced that the talks had not produced an agreement.

"I don't want to deal with them. I personally don't want to be their partner. We will not deal with the Dutch." He said: "The Dutch people have not come through." He said he could not get a written agreement from them on their financial investment.

Lawyers for another group, called Middle East Broadcasting Center Ltd., apparently made an unsolicited $3.5 million bid directly to company and Creditor Committee lawyers on Thursday. This bid was not sought by UPI, or encouraged by the company.

The bid makes no provision for operations past June 22, when UPI's arrangement with Carney expires. On that date, the company will face the same financial issues present on June 12, when the company considered the complete shutdown of operations without a new source of working cash.

In a meeting with the Washington staff Friday, Charney said he believed UPI, as an American news agency, should be owned by Americans.

Charney said he had a "firm commitment" from a group of underwriters to sell stock in UPI to the public. The public stock offering would also be offered, on a special basis, to the UPI staff. He said such an offering would not be mandatory. "We ought to offer the staff insider shares. You won't be compelled to buy the shares."

On the subject of ownership, Charney said, "The guiding light of UPI should be an American organization with an American owner."

"We're trying to build an organization where everyone can make a good living," he said at one point.

Although Charney has made a number of comments about UPI operations, and about future plans, he has not yet submitted a formal offer for the assets and, therefore, his comments represent suggestions.

Throughout this process, everyone involved in UPI's operations - from the newsroom to the communications room to the support staff - has acted with the utmost professionalism. This is testimony to the tenacity of UPI writers and editors.

We must still concentrate on the job at hand: covering today's news for today's subscribers, which will keep the company healthy for a new owner.

United Press Associations was formed on June 21, 1907, and first transmitted news reports on July 15.

GUEST EDITORIAL

  By Bob Kieckhefer
  Managing Editor

Obviously, we're all nervous about the future of UPI and about our personal futures. But within that context, let's all try to solve the problems that actually face us and defer worry about those that might happen at some point in the future.

The fact is, we can exhaust ourselves emotionally worrying about what might happen, or fretting about specific scenarios. But why? Surely we have enough problems covering the news and reassurring - as best we can - the faithful clients still counting on us for service. Let's spend our time doing that, which is all we can contribute to this process anyway.

As for the other stuff: Most of the potential problems we're conjuring up now never will come to pass. And if some do materialize, there will be plenty of time them to worry about them and react. For now, let's not waste the time, energy and emotion.

Fast Work Helps in Beirut

When rumors started to circulate in Beirut that the last Western hostages held in Lebanon, Germans Thomas Kemptner and Heinrich Struebig, would be released, panic struck our office. Even during the golden days when there were at least three correspondents in Beirut office, it was never an easy job. Now with D. Saoud alone handling news and management as well as assisting our accountant in the finances, it was a nightmare.

Coordination and adequate usage of thin resources were essential. Also Saoud's priority was to be directly present on the field instead of relying on often late and confusing radio reports.

It took from Saturday 'till Wednesday to see finally the two hostages free, spending days and nights at office awaiting communiques from kidnappers or trying to confirm their release while conflicting reports were flying all over the wires and radios.

Saoud says: "I counted primarily on the fast-typing skills of our secretary, Linda Okaily. And thanks to some friends of mine, I could borrow for two days a satellite telephone so I could communicate directly with the station while covering the story on the field. It was a bit hard to think of leads, style, punctuation and background while calling in from the street and trying to fight back all the stampede that ravaged the journalists covering the story - note that I am a 5.2-foot female, by far the tiniest among the crowd. But I had no choice. I had to send complete leads for linda to punch directly on the cifers

Name Has Clout

The UPI name still has clout. Kirk Longhofer, our stringer in Wichita, says had it not been for a letter on UPI stationery saying he would be covering Boris Yeltsin's visit for the wire, he never would have been invited to follow the Russian leader around, watch him combine a wheat field and help him munch barbecue. "Your letter did the trick," an elated Longhofer said after Yeltsin left for Canada. Longhofer said the Secret Service had been giving local reporters a hard time about gaining access to the Russian leader but exhibited a different attitude toward national media organizations. Longhofer provided us with great color throughout the day Thursday and was standing right next to Yeltsin when he hopped off the combine and inspected the wheat that had been harvested, catching a comment about whether the grain was really ready for harvest. Our new Motto: "UPI - even the Russians know how important we are!"

Enterprise and Resourcefulness in Cairo

From Cairo, UPI's Bahaa Elkoussy offerfrom the Middle East.

"UPI's name made a big comeback this week to the pages of three daily newspapers in Egypt after I had a friendly, businesslike meetingor Samir Ragab.

"He is the Board Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of the government-controlled Al Gomhuriya (Egypt's third largest daily) and Al Misaa (Egypt's or), Board Chairman of The Egyptian Gazette (the country's only English- language daily) and Hurriyati weekly magazine, and Editor-in-Chief of the weekly Mayo (f President Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party), As such, Mr. Ragab is an influential figure in this society and has easy access to the president.

"T only all of those, but also the head of a publishing house that has been a UPI subscriber for many years.

"But Ragab's publications, which have used our seice of one (even at an older rate), often do not attribute stories, such as Hollywood stories of Vernon Scott. Stories filed from Cairo, medical, scientific as were either printed without attribution or seldom with just the name of the reporter or writer, which certainly does UPI an injustice at a time when it needed it can get.

"During my first month at work, I could not tolerate the problem, especially since some friends in the trade told me the problem was an old one -- the Editor-in-Chief of the Gazette Ali Ibrahim. The problem did not disappear entirely, so I decided on a personal meeting.

"Ibrahim and I became friends ame back big to all sections of the paper. Not only that, he sometimes makes up for what we used to get from MENA, the local news agency we were no longer able then talked Ibrahim into arranging a meeting with Ragab on June 15 we both went to see him at his office in Cairo.

"During the warm 30-minute meeting I managed to wrestgive UPI all recognition for its reports printed in his various publications.

"Since that day, UPI has been on the front and other pages of the papers twicef my reports was highlighted and commented upon on the front page of two of the daily papers with phrases like " The internationally renowned United Press Says in headlines.

"I intend to launch a similar crusade with Cairo Radio and Television, another subscriber we have financial problems with. Then I plan to move tst contract before I can kick off an ambitious plan of sales among new subscribers, a mission almost impossible without some necessary changes."

---------------