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The world needs columnists … and column-readers!

As a freelance columnist I might be biased, but I’d like to think that while a lot of readers love to hate and hate to love the columnists that appear in their favorite paper’s pages (or dare I hope on their favorite blog sites?!) — columnists ultimately make reading a paper fun, and sometimes give us something meaty to chew on during our lunch breaks besides our stale tuna fish sandwiches.

Columnists give us something to laugh about or think about as we wake up over morning coffee or as we surf online for a quick 3 p.m. Internet-pick-me-up – something beyond the state of the economy or another mind-numbing report on the Wall Street Rollercoaster.

They tell us which late-night party was hot and which politician is — or should be — in hot water.

They might make a few us think about an issue differently, and equally might make a whole lot of us think, “Hey, how’d this knucklehead get a column!?”

Columnists give us someone to turn to every day or every week, someone to write an angry or complimentary letter to the editor about, someone we can forward via email and say “Hey, read this!” someone to post pissed off posts about, someone to read at midnight when we feel lonely, and yes, someone’s picture (if they’re in print) to cut out and throw darts at on a slow day in the office.

No darts please!!

No darts please!!

Of course, with all the competition for our interests, the twittering, the television, the taxes we just paid, I continue to be very impressed with the number of people that are actively reading newspapers, whether dailies or weeklies, and equally impressed with the number of people who seek out intelligent thought, salient essays, humor, criticism, investigative reporting, and plain old-fashioned human connection, on well-regarded Internet news and blogging sites.

Still, I’m an old-school newspaper-in-hand lover and I still value the absolutely vital (in my opinion) link that a print newspaper tangibly creates between newsmakers (everyone from WWII vets to local folks running for office to corrupt pyramid-schemers) and newsreaders — real people on both sides of a community.

Despite the challenges faced by newspapers and the competing demands on every reader’s time, sharing opinions and ideas through a daily newspaper – through columns, editorials, letters to the editor — is still a highly valued exchange that no one is ready to give up on. Though papers will undoubtedly continue to suffer some growing (and shrinking) pains along with evolving changes in news delivery, there will always be a large audience of folks who crave the unique relationship that newspapers cultivate with the communities they serve.

And yes, again, I know I’m biased here, but I think columnists in newspapers in particular, but also more increasingly online, are essential for providing a context for understanding our neighbors, ourselves, and the issues that capture our attention. Columnists — whether focused on society hobnobbing, opinion sashaying, political imbroglios, sports, or sometimes trying to cover what nobody in print is covering – all attempt to showcase ideas and people and circumstances that illuminate our shared community and our shared humanity.

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists has proclaimed April 18th as “National Columnists Day.”

Why not share your opinion with a columnist instead of the other way around?

Take a moment to drop him or her a note of appreciation, constructive criticism, or a treatise on why you could hunt and peck out a better column with just two fingers, a two-bit manual typewriter, and a two-hour deadline than they do in any given seven days.

Better yet, write a letter to the editor and complain about or compliment the columnists they regularly run in print.

If you’re reading an online columnn (um, yes, like mine!), you can post a comment to the columnist/blogger and let them know what you think. And, if you DO like my online column — mccoolidge.com — and want to help promote me on National Columnists Day, simply take a second to forward the link or url for this blogsite to someone you think might be interested!

After all, what would a columnist be without a column-reader!?

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Posted on April 17th, 2009Comments RSS Feed
8 Responses to The world needs columnists … and column-readers!
  1. John W. Perkins
    April 17, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Happy National Columnists Day !!

    I may not always agree with you, but I do appreciate you..

    Reply
  2. Oh, yippee!! Thanks John — I appreciate the note — and am quite glad you don’t always agree with me since I know I get things wrong about a gazillion times!

    Reply
  3. Hi MC, Happy National Columnists Day!
    You know how much I love your writing…and I definitely urge others to (do as I like to do and) write to publishers and editors to tell them how much you like the work of columnists…or disagree or whatever, just to let folks know that you’re reading them and stimulated by their ideas.
    I’m a paper-in-hand person, too, and often my favorite reads are the columns in newspapers and magazines.
    I love the way you mingle current news and personal experience, MC, to add your own sense of reality to the world. Thanks, and please write on!

    Reply
  4. Oh, Susan, thanks so much for reading the blog and posting a comment! Great to hear from you.

    I appreciate the comment about “news and personal experience” — in a print column, I’d probably try to keep it a bit more on point, but the blog does give you a lot of flexibility.

    Thanks for the kind words!

    MC

    Reply
  5. Happy National Columnists Day MC.I have told you this in the past but I enjoy your columns and writings very much and appreciate all you do for people.Thank you:-)

    Reply
  6. Thanks for the kind words, Steve!! I appreciate you and all my readers too!! ’cause after all, like I said — a writer without readers is like that proverbial tree falling the forest. :)

    Reply
  7. MC, Thank you very much for your wonderful words and style ! Your writing’s are so informative, entertaining and thought provoking. Please keep up the great work.Wishing you the very best in your literary career.

    Reply
  8. Thanks for the nice words, Siesta Surfer — appreciate you right back. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to drop a note to this online columnist!
    MC

    Reply

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