NEW YORK. NOV. 4 – (UP) A book published today tells the dramatic story of how world news is gathered and brought to the public through press and radio.
It is the story of the first 50 years of the United Press written by Joe Alex Morris under the title, “Deadline Every Minute.”
The United Press was founded in 1907 and in its golden anniversary year was serving 4,833 clients.
But “Deadline” is more than a story of corporate growth. It is a story of men who rode the restless crest of history in a dedicated and often slambang quest for news – the thrills, spills and adventures, solemn and gay, that occurred in reporting the great events of the last 50 years.
The story abounds with footnotes to history as seen from the inside by newsmen, and describes their efforts — sometimes hilarious, often agonizing — to tell the news whole and true and to keep news sources and transmission lines open.
Press Freedom Fight
Through the parade of events, personalities and anecdotes the author has woven the important story of the U.P.’s ceaseless fight for press freedom around the world and its successful battle against monopoly in gathering and distributing news.
The author describes how the United Press was founded by E. W. Scripps, newspaper titan, who wanted to insure his own and other newspapers against any danger or monopoly by the Associated Press.
The core of the early U.P. was made up of young men who were “brashly and naively midwestern” as opposed to the AP., which, Morris writes, was “operated by men . . . long associated with generally conservative eastern newspapers . . . men or dignity and prestige – and a tendency to conform to set habits and traditions. The men who ran the United Press hadn’t been long associated with anything. They were young and self-confident and hungry . . . They weren’t afraid to tamper with tradition or to take a chance with a new idea . . . They went at their jobs with whatever equipment they had, and if that wasn’t enough, they invented something new.”
An early milestone was the firm stand of the U.P. against allying with the news cartel formed by official agencies or European countries and the decision to build up the U.P.’s own direct coverage abroad. Another was the impact of the powerful early U.P. client, La Prensa of Buenos Aires. which demanded thorough coverage of the important and significant events abroad on a scale not then popular among U.S. newspapers.
Four dominant Personalities who have served as U.P. presidents are treated at length in the book – Roy W. Howard, the dapper and energetic innovator who guided the service through birth, growing pains, muscle-flexing in World War I, and expansion into foreign markets; Karl A. Bickel, who saw the long view of history in current events and took the U.P. into maturity in the 1920’s; Hugh Baillie, the dynamic boss who roamed world newsfronts and urged his men to keelhaul the opposition: Frank H. Bartholomew, who came up on the news side in the Far West and Pacific areas, carrying his typewriter and briefcase to the battlefronts and extending the domain of his company. Bartholomew became president and general manager in 1955.
The wealth or anecdote packed into its 356 Pages should make “Deadline Every Minute” a treasure-house of newspaper stories for years to come. Every chapter crackles with excitement – coverage strategems, scoops, wars, revolutions, code messages, pellmell adventure. The incidents crowd each other across the pages. Here are some:
-Roy Howard scoring a beat on the 1910 Johnson-Jeffries heavyweight championship tight in Reno with his homemade invention for dictating to two telegraphers simultaneously over the noise of the crowd. This was at rig-up of eight feet of old-fashioned gramaphone rubber tubing with earpieces on one end and an ear trumpet spliced to the shouting end.
-Bill Shepherd, one of the first of the great U.P. writing reporters, watching and hearing death as 62 workers from the burning Triangle Waist Co. factory leaped one by one to the sidewalk in front of him. “Thud-dead! Thud-dead! Thud-dead!” his story started out. And his famous answer whenever anybody asked him how he managed his simple touch in writing: “There’s nothing to it. I; just write for the milkman in Omaha.”
-William Philip Simms, in Paris at the start of World War I, witnessing the first airplane bombardment of a big city, (The German pilot of a small monoplane leaped out and tossed a bomb by hand.)
Clapper and Harding
-Bob Bender, Washington bureau manager, when every reporter in town was trying to check the rumor that “Princess Alice” Roosevelt Longworth was pregnant, showing his staff the importance of the direct approach in news coverage. He telephoned her: “This is the U.P. are you pregnant, Mrs. Longworth?” “Hell, yes,” she replied. ”Isn’t it wonderful?”
-Raymond Clapper prowling 1920 GOP convention hotel corridors keeping vigil until a senator emerged after midnight and told him Warren G. Harding would be the presidential nominee. Clapper’s “smoke-filled room” is now part of the political vocabulary.
-The Billy Mitchell court martial, in which the U.P. reporter flashed a guilty verdict, while others waited, after hearing one tip-off question from the court.
-Paul Mallon exposing senators’ votes during closed sessions, a series of stories that brought an end to the Senate system of secret sessions.
-Harry Ferguson sweating out 18 minutes waiting for the Hauptmann jury to enter the courtroom after being informed the A.P. already had flashed the verdict (the wrong one, it turned out).
-H.Allen Smith in a nudist camp. (He broke a prudish precedent by writing about his adventures there.)
Tremaine and Pearl Harbor
-Harold A. Peters in Barcelona breaking the news that the end of the Spanish war was at hand by reading (as the censors listened) a long and boring dispatch by phone to London and without changing tone, interpolating one phrase into the middle of it: ‘Big shots scrammed Faceward.”
-Frank Tremaine awakened in his hilltop Honolulu home on Dec. 7, 1941, with a roaring in his ears and looking down on Pearl Harbor, exploding before his eyes.
-Frank Hewlett, who later was the last correspondent off Corregidor, getting the bulletin by phone about Pearl Harbor at 4 a.m. in Manila, immediately calling the local U.S. Navy about it and being told: “Bunk. Tell your Pearl Harbor correspondent to go back to bed and sleep it off.”
-Walter Cronkite crash-landing in a glider with the Paratroopers in a World War II action and crawling off across the battlefield only to find 12 paratroopers were crawling after him. He had, in the landing confusion, clapped a major’s helmet on his head. (Doubleday & Co. $5.)