“A writer’s job is to tell the truth. I believe, that if all the truths were known about everything in the world, it would be a better place to live.”
- Excerpt from Andy Rooney’s last appearance on “60 Minutes”
TV journalism bid adieu to one of its icons Sunday, as Andy Rooney signed off from CBS’ 60 Minutes for the last time. While sobering, especially for viewers who have been there since Rooney’s first essay in ’78, it was inevitable – all good great things must come to an end. (For those of you who haven’t tuned into the full segment, do yourself a favor and tune in for the three minutes).
Love him or hate him, Rooney was a major contributor to the news magazine’s solid reputation for excellent reporting and correspondents like Rooney, and his current and former colleagues (Ed Bradley, Mike Wallace, Anderson Cooper, Christiane Amanpour…). Whatever your thoughts are on Rooney (“out-of-touch”, “insensitive”, “gasbag”), no one could argue his terrific writing skills.
Two takeaways from Rooney’s professional legacy:
- Admit mistakes. You don’t spend over 30 years on air and not make mistakes, and Rooney is no exception. He has owned up to his errors and unfortunate choice of words, admitting that he has been “terribly wrong” on occasions. In response to his infamous comment on baseball players, he told the New York Times: “I write columns and have opinions, and some of them are pretty stupid.” (As far as CBS goes, they were in the right to acknowledge Rooney’s statements and suspend him). As much a personal as professional lesson, admitting mistakes leads us to #2…
- Stick to your guns and expertise to establish credibility. Rooney’s trademark is expressing his strong, often irreverent opinions. Rooney has also said that he considers himself a writer – not a television personality. A World War II reporter, Rooney has seen this nation change dramatically over the years, and no one can deny his experience.
So readers: Will you miss seeing Mr. Rooney each week?
I’ll leave you with my favorite line from Rooney: “I didn’t get old on purpose, it just happened. If you’re lucky, it could happen to you.”