Definitions

columnist

columnist

[kol-uhm-nist, -uh-mist]
columnist, the writer of an essay appearing regularly in a newspaper or periodical, usually under a constant heading. Although originally humorous, the column in many cases has supplanted the editorial for authoritative opinions on world problems. Usually independent of the policy of the publication, the columnist is allowed to criticize political and social institutions as well as persons. Well-known American columnists have included Finley Peter Dunne, Heywood Broun, Ernie Pyle, F. P. Adams (F. P. A.), Drew Pearson, Dorothy Thompson, Arthur Krock, Westbrook Pegler, Walter Lippmann, James Reston, Joseph and Stewart Alsop, Russell Baker, Mary McGrory, William F. Buckley, Jr., Jimmy Breslin, William Safire, Tom Wicker, Ellen Goodman, Murray Kempton, and Art Buchwald. Noted newspaper columnists have included gossip columnists Walter Winchell, Louella Parsons, Liz Smith, and "Suzy"; advice columnists Ann Landers and Abigail van Buren; economic columnist Sylvia Porter; etiquette columnist "Miss Manners" (Judith Martin); and sports columnists Lou Cannon and Red Smith.

See S. G. Riley, ed., Biographical Dictionary of American Newspaper Columnists (1995) and S. G. Riley, The American Newspaper Columnist (1998).

A columnist is a journalist who writes material on a regular basis for publication in a series. Columns appear in newspapers, magazines and other publications, including blogs on the Internet. Readers often open a publication with an expectation of reading a new essay by a specific writer who offers a personal point of view. Many columnists are strongly opinionated.

In defining a column, Dictionary.com provides a breakdown of a few popular subjects covered by columnists:

A regular feature or series of articles in a newspaper, magazine, or the like, usually having a readily identifiable heading and the byline of the writer or editor, that reports or comments upon a particular field of interest, as politics, theater, or etiquette, or which may contain letters from readers, answers to readers' queries, etc.

In at least one situation, a column expanded to become an entire successful magazine. When Cyrus Curtis founded the Tribune and Farmer in 1879, it was a four-page weekly with an annual subscription rate of 50 cents. He introduced a women's column by his wife, Louise Knapp Curtis, and it proved so popular that in 1883, he decided to publish it as a separate monthly supplement, Ladies Journal and Practical Housekeeper, edited by Louise Curtis. With 25,000 subscribers by the end of its first year, it was such a success that Curtis sold Tribune and Farmer to put his energy into the new publication, which became the Ladies Home Journal.

Radio and television

Newspaper columnists of the 1930s and 1940s, such as Franklin Pierce Adams (aka FPA), Nick Kenny, Jimmie Fidler, Walter Winchell. Louella Parsons, Drew Pearson, Ed Sullivan and Walter Winchell, achieved a celebrity status and used their syndicated columns as a springboard to move into radio and television. In some cases, such as Winchell and Parsons, their radio programs were quite similar in format to their newspaper columns. Rona Barrett began as a Hollywood gossip columnist in 1957, duplicating her print tactics on television by the mid-1960s. One of the more famous syndicated columnists of the 1920s and 1930s, O. O. McIntyre, declined offers to do a radio series because he felt it would interfere and diminish the quality of writing in his column, "New York Day by Day."

Books

However, FPA and McIntyre both collected their columns into a series of books, as did other columnists. McIntyre's book, The Big Town: New York Day by Day (1935) was a bestseller. FPA's The Melancholy Lute (1936), collected selections from three decades of his columns. H. Allen Smith's first humor book, Low Man on a Totem Pole (1941) and his two following books were so popular during World War II that they kept Smith on the New York Herald Tribune's Best Seller List for 100 weeks and prompted a collection of all three in 3 Smiths in the Wind (1946). While Smith's column, The Totem Pole, was syndicated by United Features, he told Time:
Just between you and me it's tough. A typewriter can be a pretty formidable contraption when you sit down in front of it and say: 'All right, now I'm going to be funny.'

The Miami Herald promotes humor columnist Dave Barry with this description: "Dave Barry has been at The Miami Herald since 1983. A Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary, he writes about issues ranging from the international economy to exploding toilets." Barry has collected his columns into a series of successful books, and the newspaper offers a selection of memorable Barry columns on its website.

Types of columnists

References

See also

External links

Search another word or see columniston Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature