Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Book Review: DOWN TO THE WIRE

I am drawn, like a moth to an outdoor light, to stories of how American companies have struggled in the age of vulture capitalism. I am also fascinated by the death throes of traditional journalism. Down to the Wire, even though it was written 25 years ago, is a book, written by former United Press International reporters Greg Gordon and Ron Cohen, that is an example of both: the long descent into irrelevancy of UPI in the 1980's. When I was growing up, there were two major news services--Associated Press and UPI. Like many rivals, the reputation for quality rested with the less commercially successful; UPI was always the smaller of the two. By the early 1980's, its financial problems were starting to become critical, and it was put up for sale. But in incredible, stomach-turning succession, it was sold to two nitwits that knew nothing about the business, a Mexican news lord that reneged on every promise he made, and then a charlatan that eventually, in the 1990's, ended up in prison. Somehow, UPI survived, after a fashion, but eventually has faded to a small, Internet based service today. That's beyond the scope of the book. But in this day and age when "successful businessmen" like Donald Trump and Mitt Romney are considered presidential material by many, it is instructive to read about how such men really operate when in charge of something. It isn't pretty, and in the end, everyone lost except the guys paid to go away.
Oh, and Preston must go.

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