Playing the underdog: UPI's history is a scrappy one
United Press was formed Jan. 21, 1907 by Edward Wyllis Scripps, who was building a widespread chain of newspapers and wanted an alternative to established news agencies. The fledgling operation began by daily sending several thousand words of copy by telegraph to more than 360 subscribers.
In the 1930s, the company built a network of news bureaus throughout the southern United States, Central America, the Far East, and in Europe, supplying radio stations as well as newspapers.
United Press merged in 1958 with International News Service, to become United Press International (UPI). While always playing the underdog to the Associated Press (AP), UPI made a profit in the 1950s, but began losing money in the '60s. The E. W. Scripps Company sold UPI in 1982 to Media News Company. In 1984 it generated its first profit in more than 20 years.
The 78-year-old UPI is the nation's second largest news organization with 2,000 employees supplying about 800 newspapers and at least 1,500 broadcast outlets. It has some 170 bureaus in the US and 90 overseas. The AP has about 2,800 employees and 300 bureaus.