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Andy's Homage To Newsprint

Andy Rooney Reflects On The Steady Decline Of Newspaper Circulation

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney.

Although I might lose an argument claiming that I am one, I think of myself as a newspaperman first. I do write a newspaper column that appears in a lot of newspapers and I wouldn't trade those for all the stations that broadcast this commentary. The money I'd trade.

Right here in my CBS office, we get eight newspapers every morning. I can't say I memorize all of them but I read a lot of what's in those papers.

I worked briefly for a newspaper before WW II and, on the strength of this weak association I got a job with the Army newspaper "The Stars and Stripes," in London in 1942. It was a very good, professional newspaper with a staff of reporters and editors who, in civilian life, had worked for major newspapers in big cities all across the United States. I was easily the least experienced staff member and I was lucky that I didn't get fired before I learned how.

I suppose it is, partly at least, because I do think of myself first as a newspaperman that I worry about the newspaper business. Things are not going well for them. Too many papers are going out of business. We've all been reading about the decline of newspapers for years. First radio, then television and now the Internet all compete with newspapers.

There has been a steady decline in the circulation of almost all newspapers. But it's strange because there is still no decline in the faith that people put in their newspaper. Readers check their newspaper every morning to see whether what they saw on television the night before is really true.

We read our newspapers too for all the good pieces of information that television has no time for.

Newspapers are subjected to a kind of scrutiny that television news is not. If it's on television, you don't cut it out, save it and check the facts later.

Television news is on the screen one minute and gone the next. We're lucky that television journalism has been as good and reliable as it is because of operatives like Ed Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, Tim Russert, Bob Schieffer, Peter Jennings and countless others, but it is not the same as print journalism.

There are more pictures on television, that's about it.

Written by Andy Rooney