Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes fame died recently at the age of 92.
A curmudgeon to the end, he took great delight, every Sunday night on the television newsmagazine, to point out all the things in life that just don’t make sense. From the war on Iraq to the size of blueberries pictured on the outside of a cereal box, nothing was too large or too small to escape his critical gaze. His three-minute diatribe, delivered in his trademark droll tone, was the show’s last word.
Rooney’s weekly appearance became a staple in the ever-changing landscape of broadcast journalism. As the decades rolled by, his wit and sarcasm remained as sharp as ever, although his appearance became increasingly craggy. His bushy eyebrows looked like albino caterpillars on steroids. Whenever he spoke, they took on a life of their own, rising and falling as he nailed another point about the absurdity of life.
More often than not, I had to agree with Rooney. There are a lot of things that don’t make sense in this world. War doesn’t make sense. Pain and suffering don’t make sense. Toiling away at a job you loathe doesn’t make sense. Even a small child can see what doesn’t make sense. But a small child gets shushed until he or she learns not to point out the obvious. There’s that darned old elephant in the room, again.
Rooney was enormously popular and he received tons of fan mail. He never bothered to respond. “The kind of people who write to me are not my kind of people,” he told 60 Minutes host Morley Safer. God forbid a fan should recognize Rooney on the street. Any request for an autograph would be brushed aside. “I get paid to write,” Rooney hissed at one bewildered fan who asked for his signature.
When Safer inquired about what Rooney would do if he could live his life over again, the television columnist replied without hesitation: “I would work on 60 Minutes, talking about what I want to talk about.”
I think Andy Rooney was tremendously lucky. He got to do what he wanted to do, even if his brand of honesty was harsh. Doing what you love to do means you have connected with your higher purpose. We should all be so lucky.
I don’t know whether or not I’ve connected with my higher purpose, but my job’s got everything a working gal could possibly ask for. Uphill battles? Check. A 24/7 work culture? Check. Incredible teamwork? Double check. And when that monthly newspaper heads electronically to the printer, there is no more satisfied group on the face of the planet than the Anglican Journal team. We did it, again. (Only 87 more issues to go before retirement, but who’s counting?)
That’s just the beginning, really. Because when those letters and emails start coming in, responding to what’s in the newspaper, I feel alive. Love us or hate us, at least we know that 1. you’re reading, and 2. you care, passionately.
Now, I want to hear from all 160,000 of you. Wishful thinking? Nah. We’re Anglican, after all. Conversing is one of our strengths. I am personally asking you to fill out your copy of the readership survey when it arrives in an upcoming issue of the Journal. For those who prefer electronic media, there will also be a copy available at anglicanjournal.com.
We want to know more about what you think, not just about the Journal, but also about your diocesan newspaper. The good, the bad and the ugly. Your responses will inform our newspaper content and delivery strategies in the months ahead. After all, nobody can operate in a vacuum, not even us. With your feedback, the light goes on and we will head toward it.
In the meantime, we are continuing to work very hard to bring you a better website experience, too. Our new website was launched with no fanfare just before Christmas. We’re still working out the bugs but, among other things, new software will now allow us to post your letters. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that our audience is very vocal and needs an ever-expanding forum for discussion.
Finally, some readers have made it known that they no longer care to read the Journal, since it has become a “liberal” disappointment. Fortunately, the newspaper appears to be resonating with many more readers than not. I find this tremendously encouraging, partly because the content of the Journal is a product of the independent editorial policy as expressed by the editor. And since each Journal editor is as different as the fingers on your hand, the newspaper has always been a living entity, changing and evolving as it passes from one editor to another. Vive la difference.
The bottom line here is that the Journal is no house organ for the Anglican Church of Canada. In fact, with the independent editorial policy, the church has given each editor the freedom to shape the newspaper as he or she sees fit. Of course, the hope has always been that the editor will choose to run alongside the church, not over it.
It is this policy that also makes my job so intensely satisfying. It says a lot about the church and its faith in this ministry. You’ve just got to love the church for that.
Kristin Jenkins is editor of the Anglican Journal.
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