Today is National Columnists Day, which recognizes the importance and value of newspaper columnists. It was established in memory of the day columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Ernie Pyle was killed in World War II.
I grew up reading Dave Barry (just going to his website makes me laugh out loud), the late Erma Bombeck and Bob Greene (whose career had a tragic twist). The columns were funny, moving, candid, and I could never get enough of them.
At one point in my newspaper career, I was given the opportunity to have my own column, which I called “Off the Cuff,” a recommendation from my father. It allowed me to write on most any topic. I enjoyed that freedom.
Columnist Nancy Wright Beasley, who writes a monthly column for Richmond Magazine also enjoys having the opportunity to choose her subjects. She says. “It is a privilege to be a columnist because you have the opportunity to shed light on special people who do wonderful things and are often not covered by the daily media.”
Another columnist, Ann Allen notes, “I love being a columnist. It’s more creative than reporting the who, why how, when and where.”
In later years, I was drawn to the columnists at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. My friend Julie Campbell reminded me of those great writers, who included Steve Clark, Betty Booker and Jann Malone. When I was at the Roanoke Times & World-News I enjoyed reading Ben Beagle. In researching this column, I found The World I Never Made, which is a collection of his columns.
My tastes and genres have evolved. And thanks to blogging, opportunities are everywhere for reading about issues that matter to me and sometimes just reading good writing. I asked my Facebook friends who they are reading. Here’s a sampling:
Why not make time today to read your favorite columnist? And while you’re at it, add a comment to this blog letting us know who you are reading.