Syndicates: Columnists Learn the Joy of E-Mail

By Astor, Dave | Editor & Publisher, August 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Syndicates: Columnists Learn the Joy of E-Mail


Astor, Dave, Editor & Publisher


When national Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) members met in New Orleans in June, informal conversation periodically focused on the "Big E-asy" -- also known as e-mail. The consensus was that e-mail has mostly helped their craft, and E&P later interviewed a dozen columnists to find out why.

"E-mail lets you know when you've succeeded in writing a column that speaks to your readers -- and lets you know the day it appeared," said Mark Lane of the Daytona Beach (Fla.) News-Journal and Cox News Service. "You can't help but benefit from that. Plus, it helps me find out which columns have been picked up by other papers. This gives me a better idea of what editors are looking for."

Joe Blundo of The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch said: "It's great to get e-mail, even the negative kind. It tells me people are reading." Bob Welch of The Register-Guard in Eugene, Ore., said e-mail helps him "stay in closer touch" with readers.

"E-mail has changed my column in that much more information seems to come my way, " added Dan Bernstein of The Press- Enterprise in Riverside, Calif.

Mike Argento of the York (Pa.) Daily Record said e-mail has advantages over phone calls. "I always seem to get calls in the middle of writing a column. It throws me off," said the NSNC vice president.

"E-mail doesn't have to be dealt with immediately, as a call does," said Samantha Bennett of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "And e-mail can't be sent entirely anonymously, which keeps people from being too irresponsible. If they insult me, I can always hit 'reply' and take them to task." Mike Deupree of The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, also prefers e-mail over calls because "it provides both the reader and me time to get our thoughts straight."

Environmental concerns are among the reasons another columnist likes e-mail. "No trees die because of it," said Carol Mueller, a managing editor at the Pioneer Press chain of weekly papers in Chicago's suburbs.

Others praise the exposure the electronic realm can bring. "I built my readership through e-mail. If it hadn't been for that technology, I would not exist in the printed world," said W. Bruce Cameron, the 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter author who launched his column online in 1995 and started also writing for newspapers in 1998. …

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