Eugene Rodgers on: Media Deals for the First Expedition
Q: Can you tell me something about the nature of the media deals Byrd
arranged for the first expedition? This was personal money?
ER: Byrd arranged several media deals. The New York Times had him under
contract. I believe they were paying him $60,000 for the rights to write the
news stories and the feature stories about the first expedition. And yes, Byrd
considered this to be his money. It went into his pocket. Byrd also had an
arrangement with the National Geographic Society to write an article for their
magazine about the expedition. He got a very generous contract with Putnam to
publish the book about the expedition, 20 percent royalties, again all this
went into Byrd's pocket. And he did this by making himself a media figure, a
showman. He had an adventure story to tell and he told it like a pro.
Q: What kind of deals did he make with Paramount?
ER: Byrd had two men on the expedition who were Paramount photographers. And
they made a documentary during the course of the expedition. And after the
expedition this documentary won the academy award for best photography. It was
a terrible documentary though, I must say that. It didn't really fit the
history correct. It was made to show Byrd as a great hero, and to bring tears
and sweat from the audience. It wasn't really historically true.