You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dean of White House signs off

Sale of UPI causes Thomas to move on

WASHINGTON — Helen Thomas, who had the front-row seat at White House press conferences for nearly 40 years, is hanging up her daily presidential notebook now that her long-struggling employer UPI has been sold to a company controlled by the Rev. Sun Myong Moon.

Thomas, 79, has scribbled down the jests and denials of every president since Kennedy, remaining with the wire service as it struggled for financial survival during the last 20 years.

It was purchased this week by News World Communications Inc., which is controlled by Moon’s Unification Church. News World Communications also owns the Washington Times, a D.C. newspaper with a staunchly conservative editorial page.

Valuable asset

Some Washington insiders said frankly Tuesday that with Thomas’ departure, UPI loses its most valuable asset. “The White House will probably survive,” ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson told Reuters, “but UPI cannot. Helen was and is UPI.”

Thomas, dean of the Washington press corps, by tradition kicked off news conferences with the first question.

Thomas’ long years in the White House have made her one of the most famous print journalists in the country. She has made cameo appearances in Hollywood portrayals of the White House, including “Dave.”

“This room will not be the same without Helen sitting in the UPI chair,” White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said Tuesday. “I know she’s been there for longer than I’ve been alive and knows more than I’ll ever know about this business, about this building, about this town.”

Independent newsgathering

Although the Washington Times is well-known for its conservative approach, UPI reported that its parent company plans to operate the wire service “as an independent newsgathering operation, while upgrading its capacity with new technologies and distribution practices.”

UPI once had a client base of 5,000 newspapers, but the for-profit wire service struggled in the last couple of decades in competition with Associated Press, a nonprofit service operated as a cooperative.

In one of the biggest scoops in its history, UPI was the first to report the assassination of President Kennedy. However, the quality of its journalism grew suspect in later years. One turning point in the wire service’s history came when it was forced to retract a story that 2,000 people died in the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union. In the wake of the retraction, the New York Times canceled its subscription to UPI.

More Biz

  • TV Ad Sales Upfronts

    NBCUniversal, Sky Make Joint Ad Offering As TV Upfront Looms

    NBCUniversal and Sky PLC will offer joint packages of advertising services, a new effort to monetize the European satellite broadcaster, which was purchased by parent Comcast Corp. for $39 billion last year. Advertisers will be able to reach customers in sundry international markets as well as the United States, using inventory across NBCU and Sky [...]

  • Robert Iger and Rupert Murdochcredit: Disney

    Wall Street Applauds as Disney Nears Finish Line on Fox Acquisition

    Wall Street is rooting for Disney as the media giant reaches the finish line this week in its 15-month quest to acquire most of Rupert Murdoch’s film and TV empire. Fox shareholders, on the other hand, are being a little more cautious. Disney is poised to close the $71.3 billion deal that took many twists [...]

  • Sony Music Names Amanda Collins Head

    Sony Music Names Amanda Collins Global Head of Corporate Communications

    Amanda Collins has been named executive vice president and global head of corporate communications for Sony Music Entertainment, effective immediately, it was announced today by CEO Rob Stringer. According to the announcement, in this role she will be responsible for the company’s global internal and external communications strategy and its implementation around the world, working [...]

  • Trocadero

    Philadelphia’s Iconic Trocadero Theatre to Close, Owner Confirms (EXCLUSIVE)

    After several days of rumors and a last-minute attempt by local promoters to save it, Philadelphia’s Trocadero Theatre — part of the city’s entertainment skyline since 1870 — is closing at the end of May, owner Joanna Pang confirms to Variety. The last of the city’s mid-sized independent live venues, the 1,200-capacity Chinatown performance palace [...]

  • FilMart: China's Times Vision Steps Into

    FilMart: Arthouse Distributor Times Vision Steps Into Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    This year’s FilMart marks the international sales debut of Beijing-based distributor Times Vision, which brings to Hong Kong a slate led by crime thriller “Savage” and animated feature “Nezha.” The company will be presenting nine live action films, including one documentary, and seven animated titles. Times Vision is led by CEO Nathan Hao, who co-founded [...]

  • Kyle MasseyDDJF Costume for a Cause

    Kyle Massey Sued for Allegedly Sending Explicit Photos, Texts to Minor

    Former “That’s So Raven” star Kyle Massey is being sued for allegedly sending explicit photo, texts, and videos to a 13-year-old girl, court documents filed Friday show. The complaint is for intentional infliction of emotional distress, harmful matter sent with intention of seducing a minor, attempting to commit a lewd act with a minor, and [...]

  • Conversant

    Box Office Campaigns: Unlocking Returns Beyond Opening Weekend

    Opening weekend ticket sales have typically been critical to a film’s success or failure, so marketing campaigns tend to focus on driving movie buyers in for that 72-hour timeframe. In fact, studios have nearly abandoned marketing a film past opening weekend. That stems partly from the revenue split on grosses; studios receive the highest percentage [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content