In another shake-up at the top of struggling United Press International, President Milton Benjamin resigned Wednesday after only six months on the job, apparently over conflicts with the news agency's owner, Mexican publishing magnate Mario Vazquez Rana.
Vazquez Rana, who holds the title of chairman and chief executive, will now assume the additional title of president.
The change is only one of several since Vazquez Rana bought UPI out of bankruptcy proceedings last June. When Benjamin arrived in November, for instance, UPI was suffering internal dissension over the firing of its managing editor, apparently at Vazquez Rana's order, and the resignation of its president. The company, which is the only general news agency in the United States left to compete with the Associated Press, also recently lost the New York Times as a client.
Today, insiders said, UPI is still losing money heavily, though morale has stabilized.
In a prepared release, Benjamin said he resigned after it became obvious that reviving UPI "will require a greater level of investment than was originally envisioned by the ownership."
Since the investment is so great, Vazquez Rana "wants to devote even more time to UPI and to play a more direct role in managing its financial affairs," Benjamin said.
Vazquez Rana said in the release that "I am very pleased with the job Milton has done at UPI since last spring, first as a consultant and later as president."
But insiders said Benjamin and Vazquez Rana had clashed over the approach to reviving UPI, the president wanting to improve it through investment, the owner wanting to stem the financial losses through slashing costs.
"Mario was upset because Milt was spending money," said one insider.
"Vazquez Rana wants to be involved in a level of operation that made Benjamin's role redundant," said another executive. "He wants to say 'yea' or 'nay' down to the smallest expenditure."