The Words of the Lewis Family

UNEWS History, an Interview with the Editor - Richard Lewis

Yen Chang
March 2007

Yen Chang:

In the past year and a half that I've been working at Unification News, I have had a lot of concerns about the paper that I now know are shared by many of our members in North America.

When I first came to work here, the first thing I wanted to do was bring the paper up to date with the times; taking the time to learn about the history of the paper and its purpose was the first steps I took to do this. In February, the paper had its 25th anniversary and to celebrate it, I thought our readers would appreciate learning the history of the paper from the editor himself. I also thought this would be fitting, seeing as how the paper is and will be undergoing changes in both its physical appearance and content over the year. An interview with the Unification News editor, Richard Lewis, follows.

Richard Lewis:

I was raised in Wales and attended college in England. I became a research scientist with Lily Pharmaceuticals. In 1975, I left England for a vacation in America where I bumped into my spiritual father in Berkeley, went to the workshop up in Booneville and decided to join this great crusade and not be a research scientist anymore. I was about 25. For the next 7 years I was in the Oakland church lecturing Divine Principle. I used to do the 7 day workshops up in Camp K and was assistant director there. Then in '81 when Dr. and Mrs. Durst became president of the church, I transferred to New York, lectured in Jersey for a year, and eventually ended up with the paper. I had started my Ph.D. while doing research in England and probably in the late '80's I picked it up again and finished that.

My first memory of the Unification News is at Belvedere, February 1982. It was very cold. We were all packed into the Belvedere space. Father announced right out of the blue that he was going to start a new newspaper in Washington. The News World had already been established in New York and there was a lot of work being done for that, people going door to door, for instance. He spent two hours, 5-7 o'clock in the morning, talking about The Washington Times that he was going to create; Dr. Pak was going to create it using the News World as a foundation.

They had a dummy of the Washington Times that had been made and Father held it up and talked about the fall of communism and how important the Washington Times was going to be. And then right at the end, almost as an after thought Father said, "Oh, Dr. Pak. I want you to create a second newspaper at the same time so that we're never tempted to use the Washington Times as our church newspaper." So we were going to have a church newspaper and it was going to be called The Unification News. Father then stood up and he held up two dummies, one of the Unification News and one of the Washington Times.

I had nothing to do with it at the time. I just thought, "Oh, wonderful." Dr. Pak set up a whole team at the News World offices at the News World building at 401 Fifth Avenue. The First few issues of the Washington Times were put together in New York. There were dozens of people setting that up and others getting the actual facilities ready in D.C. There was a whole team and all the focus was, of course, on the Washington Times. Dr. Pak decided to give the church paper to the church president, who at the time was Dr. Mose Durst. So the team for Unification News all moved over to 43rd Street headquarters and took over the whole eighth floor. There was a staff of about eight -- Larry Witham was editor there. Also Tony Colombrito, Brenden Lawrenson, Steve Anglin, Joham Grahm - I can remember the names but I haven't seen them in a long time. They asked Dr. Durst for more staff so Dr. Durst asked me to help with the newspaper.

At the time, I was heavily involved in public missions so this seemed to fit. The newspaper was announced in February, they got it started up in March and then by the end of April I was on the staff. After a couple of issues had been put out,

Dr. Pak started taking his members back, one by one. The first one to go was Larry and Tony became the editor (of what?). By the end of September, the beginning of October, Dr. Pak had taken away every single one of his members and I was left all by myself running the church newspaper. Everyone was busy with something so there was never anyone Dr. Durst could transfer to work on the paper so I did it alone.

By the end of the year, I was pretty much running the newspaper by myself and it became a monthly.

In those days, what we did was mark up the typed up manuscripts (typed on a typewriter) to make changes, then walk down Fifth to the News World building and I would have a typist there type each of the manuscripts into the type-setting machine.

Then the type-setting machine would spit out these long rolls of three-column type which I would then bring back here and cut up into columns and stick on to layout boards. I would have to design each page on paper first, so much of the challenge at that time was basically learning everybody's job. At that time we used the Logicon system. It was very basic. It was kind of like early WordPerfect, where in order to indent something you typed in the commands. The Logicon system was a mainframe computer at News World, a very big computer in this air conditioned room. This massive thing, like something out of a science fiction movie -- or the deck on Star Trek, with these huge tapes spinning around.

So there was learning the commands for that and then learning the photos, how to order the 'dot screen' and the 'line screen', this was all the technology then. You'd have a whole pile of photo's and mark them up for line screen and magnification, etc., and then you have your boards and then you'd have to put everything together. It was quite a complicated thing to learn but one by one, I learned all the different technologies. By the beginning of 1983 I was doing everything myself -- photos, layout, subscriptions. Still no personal computers at that point.

The very first computer we had was called the 'Tandy100'. It didn't have a hard drive and it had 32k of memory, which meant that you could type in one story. But the nice thing about this was that I could plug it into the phone with little cups that could make these cheeping sounds into the phone. Then I'd dial up the system at the News World, plug my Model 100 in and it would speak/screech to the mainframe and download an article to the Logicom system.

So instead of having to walk over to the News World and type in the article there, I could just type it in here and then download the text to the Logicom. Then I'd go there and type in all the codes and print it out and bring it back over here, cut it all up, wax it, stick it on the board, put the little bits of rubilith in where the illustrations go, and then get my photos all marked up for the man with the camera to make the screens to put into the newspaper. Then I would paste everything up until all the pages were done, put it into a box and then I would take the box down to the printers, just off Canal Street.

Now this is in the mid '80's before New York got cleaned up so Canal Street back then was kind of like walking into something out of the Terminator movies or the Mad Max movies. You really went in fear for your life. I always tried to take someone with me.

Then the next technological development was when the News World replaced the old system so that instead of printing out rolls and rolls and rolls for you to cut out and paste, this new system actually printed the text in columns and reserved little squares for photos. This new system could print out articles with certain lengths of columns depending on the specifications you commanded the system to print, but not full pages. So now, there was a whole new technology to learn. I could now cut those out and put one or two articles on a page that has already been designed. So less cutting. It still took a while because of the all the commands that needed to be typed in but it did speed up the process.

In the '80's, in one of those periodic belt tightening and restructurings that we had been through in the last thirty years, the funds from News World got cut first in half and then entirely. This is when we started asking people to subscribe. The paper was free up to this point and distributed to the members of that time. I had to learn how to manage a subscription list and renewals and stuff like that. We had companies that actually did all the mail lists and mailing until then. The printers in China Town sent the papers to the mailing company in New Jersey who managed the mailing list and got the newspapers labeled and mailed. I just sent them sheets with instructions on who to add and who to take off the subscription list and how long so and so wanted the paper for. Things like that.

We've been subscription now for quite a long time. The mailing company didn't deal with renewals, so every month I would get a stack of printout on green and white computer paper with just lists and lists of names. I would wax the backs of these lists and cut out the names and addresses of these people, stick that on a letter, and stick that in an envelope. It was a very complicated business.

Now I can just print the names directly onto the letters, takes ten minutes to do a whole stack. We still have to stuff the envelopes ourselves for subscription renewals and invoices but that's nothing compared to then. In the late 80's, when Dr. Hendricks was president and Zin Moon Kim was Continental Director, we had a lovely visit. It was just a usual day when word flashed at the speed of gossip through the building, "Father is coming today!" Father toured around the building. He went into everyone's office and everyone got to speak and say what it was they were doing. I was waiting in my office and Father came in with a big crowd of people all trying to squeeze into my office behind me. I had my easel and paste board set up.

Father spent about half an hour chatting about balance and design and symmetry and harmony on a page. Utterly delightful! He chatted in Korean and Colonel Han translated. Then I would make some questions or comments. Totally delightful half hour! Just chatting about symmetry and harmony. He didn't like the thick line bordering the page, so of course the very next issue, I used a thin line, for instance, around the page. After Father left, Zin Moon Kim popped back into my office and he said, "What's so special about the Unification News?

Father spent five minutes with everyone else but he spent half an hour with you." So that was very nice. The next great change happened in the late '80's when the computer revolution began to take off. The first thing that happened was the Macintosh.

I remember having to choose between the KayPro 10 and the early Macintosh. The tools weren't sufficient at this point to do the actual layout design and printout and everything. The best thing that I could do in the beginning was just do the mockups on the Macintosh and the typing. The Macs had a 128k memory and 400k storage on them. You couldn't do much. Faster modems were appearing at that point and you could ship that stuff off to News World but I would still be laying things out on boards. The next big step was when the laser printers became capable of doing the dots of photos and the typesetting at least precise enough for newspaper printing.

Then we got tabloid printing so we were actually printing from the Macintosh onto paper. Instead of laying things out, cutting them and waxing them and sticking them on a board, at this point, I had whole sheets of already designed pages printed out and these I would put in a big box and take it to Long Island City to where the printers had moved.

Then Joong Hyun Park took over as continental director and the big change that he asked of the Unification News was to go from being purely black and white to color. The big challenge there was learning about color separations, how to balance cyan, magenta, yellow and black; the whole theory of subtractive color spaces. That was a whole new technology I had to learn. I had to learn all these new technologies by myself and I went to science school, not graphics school!

At this point, I was still working alone on the paper. By keeping it lean and mean, there was less chance of being shut down during one of those periodic adjustments. There's always a budget crisis every few years and a new president wondering how he can cut costs. The newspaper and I have survived at least eight regime changes. They were all very different.

When I started designing the paper on computers, I started with a software program called Ready-Set-Go. Then I used to a program called Design Studio and then I moved on to what we are using at the moment, Quark Express. Photoshop for the photos was just brilliant when it first came out. It was a tremendous challenge to learn! Now we are in a very nice state where we can do all the design and sharing of files and text and photo through the internet. We have a streamlined system where everything is very electronic. We now create a file that we send to the printers through the internet.

Another major event in the history of the newspaper happened in the mid '90's. One month, I tried to calling up the printers and it turned out that the guy who owned the printing company died and from what I could gather over the telephone, we had a very serious probability of losing our mailing list at that point. I was totally tearing my hair out, wondering what to do as it was as very small company, a one man run company so everything fell apart when he died. Much later I got a call from the son and he said, "I have a disc here with some files and its labeled Unification News. Would you like it?" A miracle! He sent me a little floppy with all the names. I then had to learn a program called FileMaker Pro and I had to start learning to manage the list myself. It was a very difficult few months, getting the paper out while getting this list together and telling people whose subscriptions expired to renew and all that. Out of all the new technological advances, I remember this was the most difficult to learn. The newspaper almost died at that point. Since then we have been managing our own mailing list and now we just send the electronic list to the mailing company and they label the newspapers and deliver them to the post office.

The logistics of the paper right now consist of: collecting of material (photos and text), formatting or layout of text and photos to make them ready for printing, and color separation. All of that happens electronically. When each issue is ready for printing, we get our software for the mailing list, gather up all the names of those who will be getting the paper that month, and send that off electronically to the mailing company. International mailings are done here by hand. Then here, I print out subscription renewals, revival gift subscription, send out the invoices for advertisements and bulk newspapers to church centers. That's the basic cycle.

The Unification Newspaper is a record of what the movement has been doing during this transitional period from what we used to call "the years in the wilderness" to the transition into the age after the coming of Cheon Il Guk. If we look back twenty years in the newspaper, we'll find a totally different environment that we lived in the church back then. I'm sure the back issues of the newspaper will become quite precious. We have old issues stored in the basement. Now we have electronic files from 2000 on but not before. We have been totally electronic since December 2000 only. You'd be surprised how late that happened for us.

The paper is the way it is mainly because it gets along on a shoe string. We can't pay journalists to go out into the field and do investigative reporting. We can't really go beneath the surface. We try to cover international, national, local and even home church events -- we try to keep a whole range. At the moment we depend on people who are in the field, writing the events as they happen in their environment, voluntarily for the paper, and there aren't many who enjoy writing.

The monthly Unification News tells you what happened the month before just as a daily newspaper tells you what happened the day before. We get a lot of complaints about events that are after they happened. Well this is because the ads are sent too late. An ad should be sent 4-6 weeks in advance for a monthly newspaper. I'd like the paper to become the hometown newspaper, but again that requires involvement of the readers.

For the future, I hope we can have part-time regional correspondents paid to cover news every month in their region, looking beneath the surface of what goes on. The resources that we have at the moment cover only a basic outline of what the movement is doing, which is more than enough of a challenge at the moment for the paper as it is staffed right now.

It's been quite a challenge. I've had my elbow broken and in a cast twice; I've had galloping pneumonia and was hospitalized for weeks; I've broken my wrist as well, but I've always managed to somehow get a Unification News out twelve times a year. Occasionally I'd have to do a double issue just to catch up. It was very different from how things work now.

Yen Chang:

I've asked Richard many times why he continues to work at Unification News rather than pursue his desire to contribute to the unity of the sciences and religion fulltime; he's always falling into heated discussion with coworkers here about God, Divine Principle, the universe and science. Every time he answers, "I am responsible for UNEWS. I believe it is God's direction for me, my way of contributing to the Providence." He always responds with a rather serious smile and an intense stare.

He's still typing with just two fingers. I bring that up to show how hard Richard's worked that he never found time to learn to type properly. I know that some things in the movement take many years to progress forward but that doesn't mean there isn't someone or a team of people working very hard to ensure that their task is being fulfilled to the best of their ability. Richard is one of those people.

Right now, we are working together to improve the paper and move it forward. We recently sent out a survey on Rev. Jenkins behest, which many of you have kindly responded to. Please continue to send your support and suggestions to us at UNEWS and I hope this short interview was an eye-opener, or at least and interesting read.

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