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What is a Columnist?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

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Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

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At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

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

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Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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