'UPI in Texas' - August 1983

Here is the Texas newsletter -- UPI in Texas -- for August 1983 (which was distributed to UPI clients in the Lone Star State):

McCrohon named editor in chief

Maxwell McCrohon, president-news for The Tribune Co. of Chicago, became editor in chief of UPI on Aug. 15.

McCrohon, 55, a veteran newspaper editor, was managing editor of The Chicago Tribune from 1972 to 1979. During that time, he led a team of editors who revitalized the newspaper's editorial content, expanded its international and business coverage and introduced new special sections.

The Tribune won four Pulitzer Prizes -- one for international reporting, two for local investigative reporting and one for architectural criticism -- while McCrohon was managing editor. He was named editor in 1979 and moved to his position with The Tribune Co. in 1981.

Before joining The Tribune, McCrohon was managing editor of Chicago Today, a successor to The Chicago American. He became a reporter for Today in 1959 and then held jobs as rewrite man, features editor and Sunday editor.


Dallas manager named

Phil Magers, a 17-year veteran with UPI, has been named manager of the UPI office in Dallas, Travis M. Hughs, Southwest Division vice president, has announced.

Magers, 41, joined UPI in Kansas City in 1966 and has worked in Dallas seven years.

He has divided his time in Dallas between newspaper and broadcast desks. For the past two years, he has been on the division desk, which handles all copy of national interest originating in the nine-state Southwest Division.

Magers, a native of Atchison, Kan., graduated from the University of Kansas in 1964 and worked at The Salina, Kan., Journal two years before joining UPI. After two years in Kansas City, he was manager of the Topeka, Kan., office from 1968 to 1972 and manager in Cheyenne, Wyo., from 1972 to 1976.

He covered the burial of President Eisenhower in Abilene, Kan., the student unrest at the University of Kansas in 1969 and he desked the Damascus, Ark., missile explosion.


Meeting not so routine

What appeared to be a routine afternoon meeting of the Texas AFL-CIO convention in Austin turned into a good story that non-UPI clients did not get. A UPI newsman was the only wire service reporter on the scene.

A day earlier, Texas' flamboyant Attorney General Jim Mattox had asked the AFL-CIO delegates to boycott Mobil Oil Corp. over a legal flap involving disputed oil leases in South Texas.

After receiving a tip that labor leaders might adopt a resolution to boycott Mobil, UPI's Austin bureau manager, Bob Lowry, rushed to the Austin City Auditorium to check it out.

Union members, in a vocal display reminescent of a national political convention, adopted a resolution in support of Mattox, but stopped just short of calling for a Mobil boycott.

Four days later on Aug. 2, UPI in Austin was one up again.

The AP chose not to staff a news conference by People for the American Way, a Washington, D.C.-based anti-censorship group that succeeded in opening up the Texas textbook selection process this year.

The group announced that it would launch a campaign to change the controversial guidelines used to select texts for Texas public schools. Again the AP was absent, and again UPI had the story.


Best seat in the house

Those clients riding shotgun with UPI throughout the Billy Ray Clore mercy-killing trial in Houston last month got the best seat in the house.

Houston staffer Barbara Canetti was driving while Houston's Olive Talley and Gary Taylor did the desking. Ed Fulton and Jess Blackburn covered the desk in Dallas.

Canetti said there was plenty of cooperation among reporters in the hair-triggered atmosphere of the Harris County courtroom despite the nationwide attention. Everyone respected the family's wishes and did not interview them.

Each day during the trial in early July, the Clore family -- mother, sisters, brother and paternal grandparents -- escorted the soft-spoken defendant to court. Billy Ray, 26, had put a .45 slug into the temple of his unconscious and dying father.

When it came time for the verdict, the door into State District Judge Ted Poe's courtroom was virtually blocked by broadcast and print photographers. Canetti decided to ask a favor of the judge.

She realized it woud be a struggle to get out of the courtroom to a phone when the verdict was read and almost as difficult getting back inside for immediate reaction from the principals.

Poe gave her his permission to sit a few feet from Billy Ray. From there, a side door led to the judge's office and an open phone line, which reporters were not usually permitted to use. Within seconds of the guilty verdict, she fed the judge's words to Talley. It was a clear beat.

Three days later, the jury returned its sentence. Canetti went to the well again and got even better results. She gave desker Taylor such a lead that clients were calling with words of praise. The Houston Chronicle reported UPI cleared the sentencing story 26 minutes before the other guys got cracking on the Texas wires.


No invitations issued (but UPI was there)

No reporters were invited or even allowed into the family reunion featuring guests of honor Amin Gemayel, president of Lebanon. But UPI was there.

The secret service of two countries did not want reporters near the outgoing, friendly Gemayel. The scene in the hotel ballroom was a security nightmare. But staffer Barbara Canetti and local television reporters did talk with him -- and not just about the hot weather.

They talked about the creation of a coalition of leaders who oppose Gemayel's government. Gemayel told them he did not fear the group, and that he welcomed The United Opposition Front. His words made for a print exclusive.

Gemayel, 39, was in Houston for political reasons and for a reunion of 500 relatives from across the country. Reporters were not invited to the breakfast party, but staffer Olive Talley talked family members into allowing a few media to attend. It paid off -- AP was not invited and missed the rare interview.


UPI in Texas

TEXAS EDITOR -- Darrell Mack
REGIONAL SALES EXECUTIVES -- Marge Boatright and Bill Fuller