Education
Fact-checked

At PracticalAdultInsights, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is a Columnist?

A columnist is a writer or journalist who regularly contributes articles to a publication, such as a newspaper or magazine. They often have a unique voice or perspective, offering insights on various topics. But what makes a great columnist? Let's delve deeper.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A columnist is someone who regularly prepares brief essays and commentaries for publication. Columnists may work for broadcast media in radio and television, but they are more commonly associated with the print media, in the form of newspapers and magazines. A columnist is a type of journalist, but he or she is not required to adhere to expected journalistic ethics of neutrality, and a column does not necessarily contain news.

Columnists usually write on a regular schedule, producing material for publication on a weekly, monthly, or daily basis. They appear in the same section every time they are published, usually under the same heading, such as “News and Notes” for a columnist who provides information about community events. They may write under their own names or under a pseudonym, such as “Miss Manners” for the noted etiquette columnist otherwise known as Judith Martin. Some columnists write specifically for syndication, while others work for a particular news organization, and their columns may be reprinted by permission from the organizations they work for.

Newspaper columnists comment on recent news events.
Newspaper columnists comment on recent news events.

Originally, columnists focused primarily on humorous pieces, which might include political satire, jokes, or other forms of humor to lighten the news and keep readers occupied and engaged. Over time, columnists began to expand their offerings, and they can be found writing on food, fashion, gossip, and lighthearted community news. A columnist may work as a critic, writing a regular column on a topic of interest such as film or art.

Newspaper columnists may cover local events.
Newspaper columnists may cover local events.

Some columnists use letters from readers as a core part of their column. Advice columnists, for example, take requests for advice and assistance from readers, responding to them in a regular column. A columnist can also use a column as an educational forum; for example, a gardening column might include answers to questions about plant identifications from readers. Reader submissions can also be used to distribute information or coordinate community exchanges.

Some columnists use letters from readers as a core part of their column.
Some columnists use letters from readers as a core part of their column.

Editorials are also commonly presented in a column format. In an editorial commentary, a columnist is generally quite opinionated, discussing an ongoing issue or news items. Editorial columnists can also write endorsements for elections, provide information for citizens who want to get involved in particular causes, or provide a forum for debate, as in the case of a publication which has two columnists of opposing views who duel over a topic in a jointly-produced column.

Columnists may act as a food critic and discuss menus prepared by local chefs.
Columnists may act as a food critic and discuss menus prepared by local chefs.

Working as a columnist requires good writing skills and a strong work ethic, because the day to day burden of producing a column can be quite significant. Some columnists start out as journalists, while others may be asked to consider becoming a columnist because of their expertise in a field. An economist, for example, might be invited to produce a weekly column on economic issues for the readers of a newspaper.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PracticalAdultInsights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PracticalAdultInsights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Newspaper columnists comment on recent news events.
      By: spinetta
      Newspaper columnists comment on recent news events.
    • Newspaper columnists may cover local events.
      By: fovivafoto
      Newspaper columnists may cover local events.
    • Some columnists use letters from readers as a core part of their column.
      By: LoloStock
      Some columnists use letters from readers as a core part of their column.
    • Columnists may act as a food critic and discuss menus prepared by local chefs.
      By: lester120
      Columnists may act as a food critic and discuss menus prepared by local chefs.
    • Columnists may give advice on ways to meet new romantic partners.
      By: rodjulian
      Columnists may give advice on ways to meet new romantic partners.
    • Some columnists may focus on giving tips for pulling off special events.
      By: tomas del amo
      Some columnists may focus on giving tips for pulling off special events.