September 7, 2015

1954. Downs Writes Home from Rome

News from Abroad
Bill Downs (right) with his wife Roz at the Suez Canal in the mid-1950s

August 27, 1954

Dear Folks,

. . .

As you may have heard, there has been a big administrative shakeup in CBS News. What has happened is this. Radio and TV news has been put back together—which means I am officially head of both in my area now. Sig Mickelson has been appointed vice president to head the combined setup—[Wells "Ted"] Church is cut. He goes to Washington as a correspondent. Ed Morgan becomes head of the combined news operation and there are other top men for special events and special projects.

It's something we have been arguing for overseas for a long time because it is silly to compete within the company. It will mean more work and probably no more money, but it also means that I will not be excluded from television work by my radio contract. All in all, I think it's a good thing.

People are depressed over here by the failure of the Brussels conference and the French reticence to sign the European Army plan. No one knows what's next and if the Western Alliance breaks up it could mean trouble. Anyway, it looks like we will have the old German bugaboo to contend with which, added to the Russian threat, makes things frightening indeed. Maybe someone will think of something.

American prestige is at a new low these months with out lack of policy, our floundering in Congress and what many Europeans see as the beginning of a kind of fascism in the States. McCarthy and Co. are looked upon here as American Hitlers.

But despite the depressing news, the tourist business is at a new high and no one in Italy really seems worried.

. . .

John Adams and his wife were through the other day. He's on his way to Pakistan for consultation. I may get out there sometime this fall. However the difficulty is that there are simply no facilities for broadcasting.

Bill Dickinson and family are due here in December. He's on a long leave of absence and has the whole shebang touring Europe. After that they plan to move back to Philadelphia, where he'll take on some sort of editor's job on the Bulletin. Also George Wellde, who you met in Washington, has moved back to Europe and now is working for the President's escapee program in Frankfurt, Germany. We hope to get up to see him sometime soon.

That's about all the news. The summer seems to have gone too fast and it's hard to believe that we have been here for more than 8 months already. Probably will stay another couple of years the way things look. Anyway, let us know what's going on. The Kansas political situation looks interesting. What's going to happen to the Congress in November?

Give our best to everyone.