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The Newspaper Business Then and Now

Andy RooneyThe newspapers keep coming in my office. There's always today's paper before I've finished yesterday's and I get a lot of them. As you know, I'm an avid newspaper reader and I like all the little stories, so the paper takes me a long time to read. I wish I read only one. (I would normally say "I wish I only read one," but I read where that's wrong.)

Before reading one of my papers the other day, I couldn't have named the president of China and I don't know what to do with the information now that I have it. The story says that China has the largest population of any country in the world. This sort of information is nothing I want cluttering up my memory but it does. Scientists should be doing more about our memory. I wish mine was more flexible. There's a lot of stuff I remember that I'd rather forget. There's a lot I'd like to remember that I forget.

The story says the president of China is named Hu Jintao, but after reading the story, I still don't know whether "Hu Jintao" is his whole name or just his last name. Maybe just "Hu" is his first name. I think any reasonably well-informed Chinese person would know Barack Obama's name but they wouldn't call him just "Barack," which means I ought to be ashamed of myself. Or maybe the paper ought to be ashamed for not making Hu Jintao's name clear. I suppose the name "Andy Rooney" would seem strange to Hu. I'd like to say "Hi" to Hu.

The story says that in a part of China called Jiangsu, a million people lost their water supply recently when Tai Lake, their only source, turned green because of the algae in it. We have a cottage on a great lake and there are more and more people living around the lake every year. I'm always afraid the water will turn green. I don't know what we'll do about our earth when there are too many of us to live comfortably in it. Or is that "on it"?

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The Washington Post is a serious newspaper that runs 15 comic strips. Sometimes they're interesting but almost never comic. Funny is hard, and "comic" is a pretentious word for "funny" except in relation to the "strips." The best comic strips in my life were the ones I remember from my childhood, although they weren't that funny, either. I liked Gasoline Alley, Winnie Winkle and Buck Rogers. Buck started when I was about 12 and it was my favorite. He had a small pack he could strap to his back that enabled him to take leaps of 25 or 30 feet. I've always wanted one of those packs to strap to my back. I'd be outta here in a minute.

The name of the strip, "Buck Rogers," may have ruined the name "Buck." You don't hear anyone called "Buck" anymore.

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I love to tell my own newspaper story. When I was 12 or 13, I delivered papers. There were 26 customers on the route. That's what we called it, "a route." I delivered "The Knickerbocker Press." I don't know why, but at some point they changed the name to "The Knickerbocker News." I don't remember anyone ever signing up because of getting one free, but every once in a while, they'd make us drop a newspaper on some of the porches of people who didn't subscribe in hopes they'd sign up. We liked delivering Mrs. Wachter's paper because she always gave us 25 cents extra when she paid her bill every week.

(Write to Andy Rooney at Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207, or via email at aarooney5@yahoo.com)

(c) 2009 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC

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