May 24, 1958: News agencies United Press (UP) and International News Service (INS) merge to form United Press International (UPI). Headquartered in the US, the news agency’s roots date from 1907. E. W. Scripps created the first chain of newspapers in the US. The Associated Press (AP) was formed by a group of New York City newspapers in 1846. The AP could then pool resources and provide more in-depth and accurate news from Europe. The AP refused to sell their services to several Scripps papers. So Scripps merged three regional press agencies into UP and began service on June 21, 1907.
Scripps did not limit who could purchase the service. Scripps felt the members-only philosophy of the AP was nothing less than a monopoly. Scripps also felt local editors knew more about their local markets and they were given remarkable latitude. His papers were successful and he moved to San Diego in 1898. UP was the only privately-owned major news agency at the time. AP was a conglomerate and most European agencies were run by the government; France had Havas, Britain had Reuters, and Germany had Wolff. In 1909, William Randolph Hearst came forward with INS.
Frank Bartholomew took over as President of UP in 1955 and became “obsessed” with bringing INS into UP. In order to keep anti-trust suits at bay, United Features Syndicate remained a separate company. Today called United Media, they syndicate 150 comics and editorial columns worldwide. The newly formed UPI had 6,000 employees and 5,000 subscribers, 1,000 of them newspapers. Later in the year they began UPI Audio Networks, the first wire service radio network. By 1960, they were also providing a television film service.
The UPI was not able to charge fees at the same rate as AP. With increasing TV news shows and a decline in afternoon newspapers, their customer base dropped. There were seven different owners between 1992 and 2000. In 2000, News World Communications bought UPI. Sun Myung Moon’s global conglomerate helps promote his Unification Church. Today there are only 5 reporters in the Washington, DC headquarters with several dozen stringers filing stories from around the world. With a web presence at UPI.com, UPI reaches 1.8 million unique visitors each month. They continue to provide news, photos, and video.
“Far more thought and care go into the composition of any prominent ad in a newspaper or magazine than go into the writing of their features and editorials.” – Marshall McLuhan
“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.” – George Orwell
“No American newspaper will print anything contrary to its own interests.” – George Bernard Shaw
“Editor: A person employed on a newspaper whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.” – Elbert Hubbard
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Edward Willis Scripps was born in 1854 in Illinois. His father was from London; his mother was the third wife. Edward was the fifth child of this union and he had seven half siblings as well. Edward and his half-sister, Ellen, worked for an older half-brother, James, when James founded The Detroit News in 1873. By 1878, Edward used a loan from James to move to Cleveland and start The Penny Press (later the Cleveland Press). He went on to purchase or begin 25 more newspapers. Edward lent money to promising local newspaper publishers. If they were successful, he would buy a 51% share of the paper and thus expanded his E. W. Scripps Company.
May 24, 1830: Sarah Josepha Hale published her world-famous poem. She was born in Newport, New Hampshire. Her mother was a firm believer in education and egalitarian in her methods; both her son and daughter were given instruction. Sarah married David Hale in 1813 and the couple had five children in quick succession. David died in 1822 and Sarah never quit mourning his loss, wearing black for the rest of her life. Sarah published the first set of her collected poems in 1823 and a novel soon after. Both were successful. She published a book of children’s poems and Mary’s Lamb was included.
Today, we know the poem as Mary Had a Little Lamb. The poem was inspired by actual events. Mary Sawyer kept a pet lamb. Her brother encouraged her to take the lamb to school which she did. The stir created was intensified by an unexpected guest’s appearance. At the time, ministers visited schools to help prepare students for college. John Roulstone, visiting with his uncle, the Reverend Lemuel Capen, was so impressed by the lamb at school, he returned the next day. Some claim John wrote the beginning of the poem and Ms Hale wrote the more moralistic ending. Others assert Sarah was the sole author. Lowell Mason set the poem to music later in the decade.
Mary Had a Little Lamb is considered to be a Nursery Rhyme. These are “traditional” songs for British or American children. The term “nursery rhyme” only came into use in the 19th century. Prior to that, the sing-song poems were called “Mother Goose Rhymes.” The earliest form of these poems, both historically and as presented to children, is the lullaby. Many nursery rhymes have a hidden or secondary meaning. For instance, Baa, Baa Black Sheep speaks to the practice of slave trading or possibly the steep medieval taxes. However, many of today’s interpretations are simply added on to the poems without any supporting historical evidence.
Sarah Hale did more than just write poetry and novels. It was due to her tireless effort that we have Thanksgiving as a national holiday in the US. Prior to the declaration of this holiday, it was celebrated only in New England. Each state would create it’s own holiday anywhere from October to January. It took seventeen years of campaigning before Ms Hale was successful in creating the National Holiday we know today. She wrote letters to five US Presidents before she was finally able to convince Abraham Lincoln to support legislation for the November holiday. It was the third national holiday celebrated with the other two being Washington’s Birthday and July 4.
A blessing on the printer’s art!– / Books are the mentors of the heart.
I’ve learned to judge of men by their own deeds; / I do not make the accident of birth / The standard of their merit.
O wondrous power! how little understood,– / Entrusted to the mother’s mind alone, / To fashion genius, form the soul for good, / Inspire a West, or train a Washington!
The temple of our purest thoughts is silence! - all from Sarah Josepha Hale
Also on this day:
May 24, 2001: The third floor of the Versailles wedding hall collapses. The hall was located in Talpiot, Jerusalem. It was a Thursday evening and the newly married Keren and Asaf Dror were celebrating their wedding when the floor simply vanished. At 10:43 p.m. the third floor gave way with 23 people falling to their deaths. Another 380 were injured. The bride and groom both survived. Shocking enough in its own right, the disaster was captured by someone at the wedding filming events. The collapse was broadcast both locally and on international television.
Rescue efforts began immediately with some of the surviving 700 wedding guests helping family and friends. Others joined in the attempt to free people from the rubble. The floors collapsed one on top of the other and it took days to complete rescue efforts. Eli Beer, the first EMT on the scene, instituted Israel’s mass casualty response. The rescue was spearheaded by the Home Front Command’s Search & Rescue Unit. There were 23 bodies pulled from the ruins. Amazingly enough, three people were extricated alive.
Of immediate concern was whether or not this was a terrorist attack. It was found to be due to structural failure. The building was engineered using the Pal-Kal method, a light-weight coffered concrete floor building system. The floor was seen to sag just before it collapsed, wedding guests reported. The area of collapse was initially designed to be a two story building while the other side of the building was to be three stories. During the construction phase, it was decided to create the building all one height and the load bearing was too much for the base. To offset this (at least partially) a lighter weight method of construction was used.
Just a few weeks prior to the wedding, the building owners removed partitions on the second floor to create a more open space. Unfortunately, these were load bearing walls and the floor above began to sag. The building owners didn’t realize the enormity of the consequences and thought it was only a cosmetic issue. The three owners of the building were convicted of causing death by negligence and damage by negligence. The inventor of the Pal-Kal method and three others involved in the construction have also received prison sentences for death and sabotage by negligence. The wedding hall was demolished and the site remains sealed.
“Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.” – Michael Leunig
“True love stories never have endings.” – Richard Bach
“Spouse: someone who’ll stand by you through all the trouble you wouldn’t have had if you’d stayed single.” – unknown
“The highest happiness on earth is marriage.” – William Lyon Phelps
May 24, 1626: Peter Minuit purchases what is today called Manhattan from natives for goods valued at 60 guilders. The deed to this purchase has been lost to history. Minuit was the third director of the Dutch West India Company and arrived in the colony he was to govern on May 4, 1626. The purchase itself was discovered in 1846 when a Dutch-American persuaded President Martin Van Buren to send a representative to the Netherlands and documents were discovered, copied, and translated into English. Only partial documentation of the Staten Island purchase, which Minuit was also involved in, had survived.
Legend states that the goods were beads, but according to logs kept by the company, there were probably many other types of goods included in the trade. In the purchase of Staten Island, goods traded included cloth, kettles, axe heads, other tools, and “diverse other wares.”
The value of guilders at the time of the trade in comparison to other currencies is questionable. The value of US $24 was arrived at during the 19th century. With the inaccuracy of the conversion methods from the 1800s acknowledged, that $24 adjusted for inflation is about $500-$700 today. The Manahata Indians, who actually owned the place, were not involved in this bargain trade. Minuit is believed to have dealt with the Canarsee Indians, who lived on Long Island.
Manhattan is one of the five boroughs of New York City. New York County has the same boundaries as the borough and is the most densely populated county is the US. As of 2008, there were 1,634,795 people living on the 22.96 square miles or 71,201 people per square mile. Not only are there many people living there, they have the one of the wealthiest counties in the US as well with a per capita income of over $100,000. It is the smallest of the five boroughs but holds the middle position for population rank. It is also a major commercial, financial, and cultural center with many media outlets claiming a Manhattan address. There are tourist attractions, museums, and universities within its boundaries. Manhattan is also home to the headquarters of the United Nations and the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.
“In cases of major discrepancy it’s always reality that’s got it wrong….reality is frequently inaccurate.” – Douglas Adams
“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.” – Mark Twain
“Being on sea sail, being on land settle.” – George Herbert
“Manhattan is a narrow island off the coast of New Jersey devoted to the pursuit of lunch.” – Raymond Sokolov