Deadline Every Minute

I just finished reading “Deadline Every Minute” for the third time and I got as much pleasure out of the current reading as I did many years ago.

Written by Joe Alex Morris, it is the history of the United Press and it spans more than 50 years, from its beginnings as an independent news service founded by the owners of the Scripps Newspapers to compete with the Associated Press. That competition was expanded when the Hearst Newspapers created the International News Service to compete with the AP and UP.

In many respects, “Deadline Every Minute” is the history of the United States as recorded by the dedicated men and women who gathered and reported “the news” in the early 20th century and then through two World Wars.

In the early days, the United Press was overshadowed by the Associated Press, whose “members” included the major newspapers throughout the United States, and it had reciprocal arrangements with the major news agencies in other countries around the world.

That all changed during World War II when UP, now United Press International, had to set up its own bureaus around the world to compete with the AP. That gave UPI an advantage as the news agencies of Germany, Italy and other countries were no longer available to AP — and the only alternative for major newspapers was UPI.

We often praise the heroics of the members of our armed forces in battle, which is well deserved.  But there is nothing (at least in my mind) to compare with the competitive spirit of the UPI men and women who reported the news of the day here and overseas to newspapers (and later to radio and television audiences) throughout the world. Many of those reporters bcame well-known broadcasters in radio and television in later years, including Walter Kronkite, Eric Severide and H.V. Kaltenborne.

I may be partial, since United Press International is where I gained my initial experience as a reporter — a foundation that has served me well as a newsman and editor for more than 50 years covering events all over the world.

More important, the stories of the men and women who worked for the United Press is as exciting a story as you will find in the latest thriller by the world’s best authors.

I won’t attempt to capture the daily struggle of the United Press reporters and editors as they gathered and disseminated “the news” here and abroad — especially in wartime. Some were killed in the process and others wound up in prison camps during World War II.

I heartily recommend the book that you will only find in a library, which may have to order it for you.  It’s well worth the effort.