Pieter VanBennekom's 1990 Missive No. 2



Here's a Sept. 13, 1990, message from UPI executive Pieter VanBennekom during the midst of all the 1990 layoffs:


055mccccx to: all unipresseres from: pieter vanbennekom dear unipressers: i have no doubt in my mind that we are at the most critical point in upi's history today. i also have no doubt that if we fail we will have only ourselves to blame. and if we are to succeed we will only be able to achieve that success with the full dedication and cooperation of every individual unipresser. it is up to us to prove that the world's only independently owned private news agency can indeed flourish. i urge you to refocus your energies and thoughts to the task at hand -- converting upi into a truly entrepreneurial news agency that offers premium news and information services, plays second fiddle to no one and those continually changing lines of products can be sold at a reasonable profit over coat of production. the only journalistic independence lies in paying our own way. it is a delicate balancing act to turn upi into a premium news service from a "me-too" copycat news service, always outmanned, often admired for spunk but never enough to make our effort truly pay for itself. our competitors like to insist we compare our numbers with those of others. they deliberately ignore the fact that our editorial agenda is markedly different from that of the pack and our agenda will set the pace. the truth of the matter is that we have broken the mold. our plan is working. whenever we focus attention on the new things we are doing, whether it is the pacsfacts product, our new way of reporting on the budget crisis or the effect of the iraq crisis on the oil industry, we generate excitement. we need to share that excitement ourselves. while we should be our own toughest critics, we should avoid becoming out own worse detractors, unwittingly playing the very numbers game our competitors and detractors are trying to trap us in. i, too, hate to see people leave and we will miss those who have left us. reshaping the staff is necessary, however, to create the new upi that will produce the evolutionary new information services that will set the tone for the 1990s and the 21st century. we have not yet completed the task of shifting upi from the role it occupied as "the permanently troubled" news agency struggling for survival -- to new ground where our opportunity lies. there will be further personnel changes, although the nature of those changes is not yet certain. what is certain is that the accent will be on quality, not on numbers, and that the jobs at upi will be among the very best in journalism. all of you have collaborated in the tremendous effort over the past few months setting a new agenda in news coverage -- to dig more for the enduring significance of events rather than limiting ourselves to reporting the events themselves. you have also seen the results of our efforts to combine the best of upi's journalistic efforts with other useful, impactful information from outside sources. yes, we are also consciously trying to become a broker in the information industry. meanwhile, the unique upi journalistic element will also be the flag under which we fly. the ownership of this company is firmly committed to carrying out the plan. the sales department has a solid plan of its own to target the prime markets for our new and differentiated products. with the completion of the move to the new computer we have the platform for the takeoff of our business plan and i am convinced we have the right editorial team in place to make it happen. i am asking you for your redoubled support. we cannot carry out the program without you. our real opportunity is that for the first time in our recent history, we have a chance to create a unified company -- an ownership and management on the same wavelength, having set clear goals for the comany that all employees can share and believe in, a sales department that can and wants to sell what we produce and a technical services department that can support our growth. let's get on with it. ccccqqe upi 09-14-90 12:10 ped

# # #