Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How One Publisher Scooped Even CNN as Only Direct Link to Private Soviet News Agency, Company Became News Hotspot

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How One Publisher Scooped Even CNN as Only Direct Link to Private Soviet News Agency, Company Became News Hotspot

Article excerpt

FIRMLY fixed in the right place at the right time, one small technical publishing company found itself unexpectedly swept up in the great news events of the Soviet coup - as a news agency that scooped even CNN.

And it's because it had agreed to link up with Interfax Ltd, the first and largest private news service in the Soviet Union. The two-year-old Interfax Ltd., which emerged with glasnost, had approached the major television networks in the United States, and the White House, to see if they were interested in Interfax's material. All turned the news service down.

But DGL International Publishing Company was interested in publishing material about Soviet business life for Americans who were interested in investing in the Soviet Union. So Interfax Ltd. and DGL set up Interfax-US.

The agreement focused on economic news from the Soviet agency published and distributed in the US.

The new Interfax-US was intended only to publish and distribute three technical resource directories in the areas of mining, agriculture, and petroleum. It was scheduled to begin in September.

But as soon as news of the coup hit, Pamela Lush, founder and director, rushed down to the office and found 50 pages of news already there on the computer.

Suddenly Interfax-US was the only direct link to the private Soviet news agency.

"Interfax-US was not intended as a news agency," says Ms. Lush. "It was supposed to be hard-core business news." Information poured over the computer link between Interfax Ltd. and Interfax-US.

"We didn't realize how valuable that news was until we started getting calls from various news agencies asking us to confirm news reports," says Lush. "We contacted the White House, reached a secretary who said, 'Send us everything you've got.

By Wednesday, the news was so hot the White House couldn't wait for faxes; the staff had to hear the news read over the phone before the faxes arrived. …

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