Internal report to UPI employees circa 1992 from former UPI executive Steve Geimann:
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New Owners Arrive
UPI's new owners showed up this week, anxious to begin rebuilding this company in its 85th year.
Robert Kennedy, deputy chief executive, and John Sweeney, director of international operations from Middle East Broadcasting Centre Ltd., spent a great deal of time asking questions and learning about UPI. They were joiuned by several lawyers and U.S. business consultants in assessing UPI's current position.
Kennedy also acted. On Thursday, he approved plans to send UPI reporters to Munich, Germany, for the annual Economic Summit of the world's leading industrial nations. The team includes veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas - making her second annual European trip for the summit.
He also met with the Washington staff, assuring them UPI was in secure financial and editorial hands. He praised the staff for its loyalty, dedication and enthusiam, which he said helped keep UPI going. He also endorsed the recruitment of staffers to replace key vacancies. But he warned this did NOT mean a staff expansion.
The company's investors see UPI as a good business opportunity, he said, "and it will only be a good business opportunity if it is a good service." They will not, he said, support UPI as "a public service."
"They're very serious investors," he said. "We will be investing in the growth of UPI."
Kennedy said MBC would be "looking, for instance, at broadcast products as well as newspaper, strengthen certain areas of the world where we believe there are great opportunities."
"We look to you for the input for making it grow. It's your company, you have to make it grow."
He encouraged staff ideas. They can be forwarded to Kennedy through me at 202-898-8214, or fax: 202-842-3625.
On a second front, Kennedy was also working to get the message out beyond the UPI editorial staff. He offered interviews to a number of reporters who have been following UPI's perils for the past several months.
The first week has been exhilirating and, for some of us, frustrating. Everyone expects lots of activity when new bosses come to town. But this change of ownership has presented its own challenges. As a London-based company, Middle East Broadcasting lacked U.S. bank accounts. Setting up those accounts, and getting business rolling, is not always an overnight process.
On a personal note, I found Bob Kennedy and his team respectful of what Unipressers have accomplished through determination and singlemindedness to UPI, the institution. They asked intelligent questions. They did not seem to be interested, as other have been, in specific parts of the service. They are interested in making this business - our business - succeed and profit.
This transition is far from over. We can expect further meetings with MBC executives, and - as Kennedy said Thursday - the possibility of additional management changes in the future.
For the moment, we are in alive, in business, ready for the future.
Shootout Captured by Rabun, Ryan & Kelsy, Krishnan
We had our regular quota of massacre in Texas this week when a gunman, apparently enraged by his failed marriage, emptied his 9mm Glock pistol in a Fort Worth courtroom. The event followed another round of tornadoes, which is another subject that seems to keep Texas in world headlines.
The first tip of the massacre came in an inocuous report on the nearly inaudible office radio that the sonar ears of Dick Kelsey immediately picked up. As pandemonimum broke out in the courtroom, Kelsey began working the jammed telephone lines to put the story in perspective. We kept the story moving with meagre details that we never had to retract.
Bill Ryan was roused from his home and dispatched to Fort Worth to get the story under his byline. Meantime, our Sports Writer Mike Rabun heard the story on the radio and immediately rushed to the office to lend what turned out to be we-could-never-have-done-without-you helping hand.
For the next several hours, Kelsy, Rabun and day editor Hari Krishnan worked the telephones non-stop besides monitoring the radio and television, while Ryan phoned in the latest updates, which kept shifting. The massive manhunt for the suspect that was launched spread far and wide and the story became extremely complicated.
Again Kelsey and Rabun rose to the occasion because of which we were able to keep the UPI wires red hot on the story. The story took a bizarre turn when the suspect surrendered at a Dallas television station. But we stayed on top of that with a finely fashioned leded.
All in all it was another productive day at this pressure-cooker office.
Busy McGinnis Does CNN, Derailment
Wisconsin Editor Lori McGinnis, acting on a tip from Minnesota Editor Chuck Debevec, learned early Tuesday that a Burlington Northern train derailed, spilling a toxic chemical into a river in Superior, Wis. She got on the phone to the Superior police and learned that at least 2,000 people had been evacuated because of the chemical spill. She put out a quick newspaper story and started making more calls. McGinnis and Debevec monitored radio stations, which reported that evacuations were much larger - into the tens of thousands in the Superior and Duluth, Minn., areas. Debevec interviewed some people by phone and was in touch with the Minnesota governor's office and state Public Safety Department. McGinnis called a client radio station in Duluth to get some more information and found a reporter who had decided not to evacuate the station. He provided good quotes on what exposure to the chemical fumes felt like.
McGinnis also became a television star last week on Cable News Network. A CNN Chicago crew came up to Milwaukee Tuesday, June 23rd, and spent the day with Lori, followinsor Anita Hill Monday when there was one of THOSE calls, the "I've got a new product and I thinke about it" kind of call.
When the Supreme Cpourt's abortion decision came down Monday, Hugh Bronstein-HG - on his last week as a Unipresser - was ready at Gov. Robert Casey's elbow forgrabbed Rep. Stephen Freind, author of the state's Abortion Control Act, for his reaction, and covered other news conferences called by opponents of the law. Ireaction came from the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and the Woman's Law Project, as well as religious leaders, which David Ensco-NA wrapped into a Pennsylvania hat joined many others on the national wire.
Bronstein then turned his attention to the state budget, which cost him some late nights, right up until 11:30 p.ay with UPI.
Odds & Ends
WOMEN OF THE WEEK: About two years ago Marcy Kreiter-HX wandered into a second-hand bookstore and if the store had a copy of "A Deadline Every Minute," the original history of United Press. Wednesday, a day after the contract with MBC was finalized, the storeowner called, saying he had located a copy - a first edition in good condition. Should have book in hand in a couple of weeks.
Unipress Mom Watch
London's ??? Holligan, who went on maternity leave in May, gave birth to a "a wee girl" Monday at 9 a.m. Moira weighed in at 3.3 kg (7.3 pounds in American). Holligan says sp in the day and play at night. A natural born Unipresser.