Chicago Sun-Times Article on UA's Recent History

Busdrvr

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Aug 20, 2002
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[blockquote]
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On 10/29/2002 2:16:10 PM UAL777flyer wrote:

http://www.suntimes.com/output/business/cs...s-united29.html


Is the Sun-Times really under the impression that we still operate United Shuttle? Who does fact-checking for these people?
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After reading the blurb on each of the players, them thinking Shuttle still operates is the least of the inaccuracies. Wolf the most hated?
Try again (Ferris?!). I didn't realize we forced Greenwald out in 1997. First, he wasn't forced out. second, they even got the year wrong. Truely PPR.
 

UnitedChicago

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Howdy all. I was so furious with the Sun Times that I wrote a letter of complaint to the authore and several editors. I pasted below. If you want to send your own rebuttal, below are the email addresses at the Sun Times:

twilliamson@suntimes.com - author
mcooke@suntimes.com - editor in chief
dmiller@suntimes.com - business editor


Dear Miss Williamson:

I just read your article UAL woes years in the making. I must express my extreme disappointment with the wild assumptions you make about United's past CEO's with no evidence to back it up. I'll provide some examples below:

Under the banner of United's Leaders, Losers you list Senator Hugo Black and President Harry S. Truman. Obviously neither gentlemen actually was a United Leader. They did impact United - as well as the entire airline industry - but more from a regulatory standpoint. I don't see how it is appropriate to list these gentlemen and their impact under the banner of United's Leaders, Losers. In my opinion, that is sloppy reporting and incorrectly implies that these gentlemen lead United.

I make additional comments below regarding your reporting under the banner of United's Leaders, Losers:

-George Keck: The two examples you state in causing a pool of red ink at United - the introduction of the 747 and loss of market share in Hawaii are extremely vague and are without details. How did Mr. Keck impact the problems with the launch of the 747 and loss of market share you claim occurred? You also neglected to mention that William A. Patterson was still the Chairman for much of Keck's tenure. Mr. Patterson has always been held in the highest regard.

-Edward Carlson: You claim he began a string of six or seven disastrous CEOs and presidents drawn from the hospitality or car-rental industries. He added Hilton Hotels to United's portfolio. Six or seven? Can you nail it down for your readers? My research indicates that there were only 2 full-time CEO's (Carlson and Ferris) from the hospitality industry and 1 interim CEO (Frank Olson) from Hertz. In addition, it was Hilton International hotels that were acquired - not Hilton Hotels (domestic). Further, Mr. Ferris presided over that acquisition, not Mr. Carlson.

-You mention Richard Ferris under this banner and do not even mention that he was CEO in 1985 when ALPA pilots struck United for 6 weeks (they were joined by AFA) and Ferris attempted to replace them? This was the very event that caused Mr. Dubinsky to start his long pursuit for employee ownership. You failed to mention that Mr. Ferris purchased Pan Am's pacific routes in 1986 that made United a major international player over night.

-Next, you state that Stephan Wolf ...was the most disliked CEO in the airline's history. He led United to $1.4 billion in losses and hammered labor-management relations to a low from which it still hasn't recovered, despite signing contracts that made United employees the highest paid in the industry. I agree with you in that Wolf was probably the most disliked CEO ever at United. However, you failed to mention what Wolf did correct. He presided over the purchase of Pan Am's London and Latin America routes. He also lead United through one of their most profitable periods.

-You state that Gerald Greenwald was forced out He was not forced out - he retired. If you had done your homework, you would have learned that his first president John Edwardson was the one that left. He received a vote of no confidence from labor to become the next CEO. This development lead to the disastrous choice of James Goodwin.

-Of all CEO's for you to have listed as a United Loser - why did you not include James Goodwin? He launched the doomed merger with US Airways and negotiated the pilot's industry leading contract. How can you over look Mr. Goodwin?

-Finally, I am completely insulted that you would even list Osama Bin Laden under the banners United's Leaders, Losers. Once again this is extremely sloppy reporting.

I can only imagine the sloppy and inaccurate reporting that awaits tomorrow's follow-up article. I would suggest you read a recent article that Fortune Magazine released: http://www.fortune.com/indexw.jhtml?channe...l&doc_id=209357. This might help you to see deeper into the problems and might give you a best practice of the type of reporting you should be doing. I am also sending this email to the editor to register my outrage at such sloppy and biased reporting.

Regards,

my name here (not like I'm divulging on this board ;))

P.S. While I stand by my facts and analysis of your report, I did not have the time to verify every date and occurrence. I admit there may be some errors in dates - but I am confident that any potential errors would not impact the tone of my analysis. I do stand by the facts.
 
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U

UAL777flyer

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Aug 20, 2002
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UnitedChicago,

I'm right there with you. For all the good it will do, I fired off an email to them as soon as I read the story, in order to point out some obvious inaccuracies. But hey, if nothing else, it gives me a chance to insult the press.
 
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UAL777flyer

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Aug 20, 2002
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Here is the response I just received from the Sun-Times. While he doesn't explain why they didn't bother checking facts before the story was run, at least he responded.


Thanks for your detailed and thoughtful respone to our coverage of United.

First, please note that Tammy Williamson did not write the secondary stories about Leaders and Losers who affected United Airlines, and the debt-burden story. I wrote those. I regret that I used out-dated information about the size of the United fleet, the United Shuttle, etc. in Tuesday's package. The correct, current numbers are reported correctly in the Wednesday package.

You'll also note in Wednesday's story that Tilton is likely to revive the United Shuttle, so in some sense, we're ahead of the news, and so are you.

You raised some excellent points in your critique of the Leaders/Losers story. We aren't done covering United Airlines, and I assure you that in the future, I will give close attention to the points your raised about previous management.
In the meantime, good luck in your work.

Regards,



Dan Miller
Business editor
Chicago Sun-Times
401 N. Wabash
Chicago IL 60611
 

UnitedChicago

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Aug 27, 2002
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www.usaviation.com
UAL777Flyer...here's my response :). Very similar.


Dear Mr. ###:

First, let me say that Ms. Williamson did not write the story about United's Leaders and Lossers. That information was my doing.

Regarding the Leaders/Losers story: You raise some very legitimate points in rebuttal, and some very provocative and subjective issues. We're not done covering this story, and I assure you that in the future, your assertions and observations will be considered.

Thanks for taking the time to write such a complete response.

Regards,



Dan Miller
Business editor
Chicago Sun-Times
401 N. Wabash
Chicago IL 60611

312/321-3028 voice

312/321-3027 fax
 

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