I was a bit of a bastardized Unipresser. In 1961 I was hired by the NY bureau manager for UPI-Movietonews, the late Marvin Lorber. I started as a copyboy, became a script writer, and finally a failed reporter. When in 1963 UPI severed its partnership with Movietone, we became UPI-Newsfilm for a few years before joining with ITN in Britain to form Worldwide Television News (WTN). In these incarnations I was the archivist – Library manager until we were absorbed into ABC News in the 1990s. Although our section was sort of the ugly duckling of UPI I have always considered myself first and always a Unipresser. It was there that I learned journalism, although that elitist term was taboo. I value my days with UPI over all my other years. There I learned to love and respect my comrades: Marv Lorber, Bill Higgenbottom (our god), Paul Sisco in DC, Jackie Aamodt on “the desk,” and Skippy our teletypist. Jackie always insisted that we write Jacqueline for the president’s wife because she was the only Jackie in that office. Skippy had been assigned to the relatively less demanding duties at UPI-Movietone because he had multiple sclerosis. It was Skippy who patiently taught me and others how to write an English sentence and spell it correctly. So much for a college education. Marvin once told me that had I been a journalism major he’d not have hired me.
No one was fired in those days. I screwed up in a major way. So that he would not have to bring it up himself, I said to Marvin that I assumed he would fire me. To this day I remember his answer. With a sour face he simply said: “No, when you’re on here, you’re on.” Those were the days. At UPI-Movietonews, during the Cuban missile crisis, I remember staying awake all night because I hoped to be needed. UPI-Newsfilm had only been functioning a month when Bob Hewett, our chief editor, came into the library to tell us that President Kennedy had been shot. I was on my knees looking through film cans but I could read in his face that he wasn’t kidding. It was time to get to work. It wasn’t until much later that night, while riding the subway home, that I could allow myself to be overwhelmed.