Clipped From The Daily Spectrum

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 - For United Press International 'Mormon meteor'...
For United Press International 'Mormon meteor' manages Latin American bureaus by Karen M. Magnuson SALT LAKE CITY (UPI) - He is affectionately known as the Mormon meteor a Utah-grown Utah-grown Utah-grown flash of light that streaks across the United States and Latin America on a "mission" for United Press International. But it would be easier to track a shooting star than follow the hectic schedule of Gary Neeleman. One day he might be traveling across Montana, visiting UPI radio subscribers and training a new sales executive. The next day he may be addressing dignitaries and dining with newspaper editors in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Neeleman, 50, a 26-year 26-year 26-year veteran of the news wire service, is an enigma among friends and co-workers co-workers co-workers alike. He is a devoted father of seven who rose through the company's ranks from a general assignment reporter in Salt Lake City to vice president and general manager for Latin America. Sort of a mission His entire career has been with UPI except for a one-year one-year one-year stint as assistant assistant news director for KSL Radio and TV in 1957. "If you talk to any Unipresser, there's an esprit de corps, a feeling of belonging, and I suppose more than anything else, a feeling that you're sort of on a mission. You have something very important to do," the UPI executive said. "In all my years with UPI, I've never been told how to approach a story and whether to slant a story or not. That unencumbered apolitical approach to covering the news has been an inspiring thing. I feel I've helped perpetuate something I really believe in that two free world agencies (UPI and the Associated Press) continue to see that world news is covered objectively and fairly." UPI discovered Neeleman while he was on a mission for the Mormon Church in Brazil but did not hire him until after he returned and completed completed his bachelor's degree at the University of Utah. He joined the Salt Lake City Bureau Bureau in July 1958, enduring a four-month four-month four-month "baptism under fire" filing Utah radio copy, and was sent to New York City to train on the Latin American desk. Speaks Portuguese, Spanish "After a month there, my wife and I packed up with one footlocker, a couple of bags, and a baby under my arm, and off we went to Brazil at $100 a week. I had a great time there seven consecutive years," said Neeleman, Neeleman, who speaks fluent Portuguese Portuguese and Spanish. He was quickly promoted to bureau bureau manager in Sao Paulo, where, at the age of 23, he was in charge of 20 people. He also traveled throughout throughout Latin America, interviewing world figures and covering the biggest biggest stories of the decade. Some of his best reporting was due to being in the right place at the right time. "I was in a hotel room with the emperor emperor of Ethiopia, interviewing him and his prime minister, when it came across the wire that he had been deposed deposed by his son. I was routinely calling calling the bureau when they told me the emperor was no longer the emperor. I had to tell the prime minister he was out of a job," Neeleman recalled. recalled. "The police cordoned off the hotel and no other reporters could get in. For 24 hours, I dictated a running story on the reaction of the emperor and his final decision to go back to Ethiopia and reclaim the crown. And he did just that." The Utah native said he was awaiting awaiting the arrival of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Brazil in 1960 when an airplane carrying the U.S. Navy Band crashed into a nearby bay. Political hijacking "All of the band members were killed the night Eisenhower arrived in a pounding rainstorm. If you don't think that was a complex story. We were two days trying to recover the bodies and cover the presidential visit," Neeleman said. The UPI correspondent also was on the scene for the world's first political political hijacking. In 1961, a group of Portuguese exiles hijacked the Portuguese Portuguese ocean liner Santa Maria, took it to Northern Brazil and asked for political asylum. "The boat arrived in Brazil with over 400 vacationers aboard and we had to interview them and get pictures. pictures. It was a two- two- or three-week three-week three-week saga, a story that was seemingly un-ended, un-ended, un-ended, before everybody was repatriated repatriated to their countries," he remembered. remembered. One of his most important exclu-sives exclu-sives exclu-sives came from an interview with Cuba's Fidel Castro in 1959. "As I left the office to interview him, I pulled some copy off the wire and saw an interview with the dictator dictator of Nicaragua complaining about Cuban mercenaries. I pulled out the story during the interview and the guy (Castro) went wild. He even went so far as to call me an arm of the imperialist government of the United States," Neeleman said. "It was one of the first indications that Cuba was going to go the other direction. Up to then, it was just speculation." For

Clipped from
  1. The Daily Spectrum,
  2. 25 Mar 1984, Sun,
  3. Page 23

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