1985 Promo on MX Earthquake Coverage



UPI produced promotion promo flier -- called "Play and Praise for UPI's Coverage," touting its coverage of the Sept. 19, 1985 earthquake that struck Mexico City. Here are a few excerpts from the flier, which included a nice UPI Graphic and a collage of headlines from newspapers that bannered UPI coverage:

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"Newspapers, TV and radio stations around the world relied heavily on United Press International's fast, accurate coverage of the earthquake that struck Mexico City on Sept. 19, 1985. UPI was hours ahead of its competition in reporting the diaster with a Mexico City dateline, and followed the breaking story with extensive human interest stories, background information, sidebars, pictures and graphics.

"Some highlights:

** UPI veteran Pieter Van Bennekom drove 140 miles north of Mexico City until he finally found a work phone to relay his story to the International Desk of UPI's World Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

** "Van Bennekom's enterprise enabled UPI to dispatch the first wire story on the earthquake with a Mexico City dateline. An editor at the New York Daily News said, 'On the first day it was embarrassing for the AP.' The AP didn't have a Mexico City dateline until several hours after Van Bennekom filed his report.

"An editor at the San Antonio Light said, in congratulating Van Bennekom and the rest of UPI, that UPI was "way ahead of the AP.' A Reuters reporter said of Van Bennekom, 'He really scooped everyone.'

** "WIth huge cracks running through UPI's office, windows blown, files scattered, and the building condemned by the police for being unsafe, UPI staffers continued to file stories by TELEX.

"While other organizations' correspondents had to wait in line for one of the three satellite phone lines into the National Press Building, UPI was able to TELEX directly to the UPI Technical Center in Dallas, Texas.

** "While those in Mexico City continued to file from the bureau, UPI reporter Bill Inman, UPI Radio correspondent Jeanie Stokes and UPI photographer Gerald Shumann joined a Dallas newspaper team and chartered a jet out of Dallas' Love Field to Mexico City. Inman's powerful human interest stories, filed by TELEX to Dallas, received extensive worldwide play.

"UPI also dispatched photographers Lynne Sladky from Miami and Paul Richards from San Diego, as well as news staffers Julie Bensen and Aurelio Rojas from Los Angeles and UPI Radio's Bob Fuss.

** "Van Bennekom provided UPI Radio Network affiliates with exclusive eyewitness reports unmatched by other networks. Stokes, who arrived on the chartered jet, later provided a variety of reports, including two on-the-scene specials.

"Britain's Independent Radio Network said that it could have done without UPI.

** "UPI received widespread play in newspapers around the world, including:

* International Herald Tribune -- front page
* New York Daily News - front page
* The Seattle Times - front page
* Seattle Post-Intelligencer
* La Opinion - front page
* The Boston Globe - front page
* Chattanooga News-Free-Press - front page

"UPI Graphics explaining the location and magnitude of the earthquake received extensive play, including prominent coverage in The Washington Post, the New York Daily News, the Newark Star-Ledger and The Baltimore News-American."

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In a box under the headline: "UPI Subscribers Protected from Major Error"

"UPI subscribers were protected from running an erroneous reporting distributed by a major U.S. news agency stating that 26 students were pulled out alive after being trapped for four days in the ruins of a collapsed technical school.

"The report, which ran for at least two cycles without correction and received prominent play in dozens of newspapers, wsa publicly disavowed by an angry Mexican official.

"'We haven't pulled out a single person alive or dead, not today or yesterday," Naval Capt. Ivan Sanders said.

"'The last person we pulled out was on Sunday, and only one person that day. His name is Abel Ramirez, and he's 18 years old,' Sanders said, wagging his finger angrily over the news agency report.

"UPI, under intense pressure to match the story, repeatedly declined due to insufficient evidence.

"Mor than 50 U.S. newspapers ran the erroneous report, most on page one with prominent headlines. Several major papers, who subscribe to UPI or had their own correspondents at the scene avoided the embarrassing error."