Sometimes First, Always Second

Monday, Sep. 12, 1983

...Securing a buyer for U.P.I, was not easy. The owners offered it first to a consortium of U.S. newspapers, next to the British-based Reuters news agency, then to National Public Radio, before finding controversial new proprietors in June 1982. Buyers Douglas Ruhe and William Geissler had minimal experience in journalism, but plenty in political activism: Ruhe, 39, was twice arrested for civil rights protests in the 1960s, while Geissler, 37, spent almost a year in federal prison for refusing to be drafted during the Viet Nam War. Both had been publicists for the little-known Bahá'i faith, a Unitarian religion, founded 120 years ago in what is now Iraq, that claims 3 million followers. Furthermore, the two Nashville businessmen admittedly had little wealth, but refused to discuss the financing of their purchase of U.P.I. Insisted Ruhe at the time: "No one is behind us." As an unintended admission of unpopularity, that statement was uncomfortably true: their home-town Nashville Banner immediately dropped U.P.I, because of the furor.

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