ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on January 16, 2010

A Columnist is the writer or editor of a column: a regular newspaper feature, usually with fixed title, style, and format, and with content ranging from Hollywood gossip to political opinion.

The columnist, often nationally syndicated, is independent of, and possibly opposed to, the editorial policies of the newspaper in which he appears.

The practice of including articles of independent opinion in newspapers dates back to the 18th century, to the newspaper publication of such series of essays as the Journal of Occurrences (1768) and the famous Federalist Papers (1787-1788), both dealing with early American affairs. In the 19th century the emphasis turned to wit, and a number of writers, including Artemus Ward (Charles F. Browne) and Mark Twain, wrote journalistic features that evolved into humorous "colyums" of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The best of the columns were brilliant miscellanies of quips, anecdotes, and commentary on personal or political affairs. Outstanding "colyumists" were George Ade (Fables in Slang) and Finley Peter Dunne (Mr. Dooley); Eugene Field, who wrote the famous Sharps and Flats; Field's successors Bert Leston Taylor, best known as B. L. T. (Line o' Type or Two) and Franklin P. Adams (The Conning Tower), who carried the Field-Taylor style from Chicago to New York City; and Don Marquis, who created the famous cockroach "archie" in his Sun Dial column.

By the 1920's, the age of the political opinion column had been launched by such widely syndicated political "pundits" as Mark Sullivan, David Lawrence, and Walter Lippmann (all of whom continued writing for several decades). A bolder political columnist was the humanitarian Hey-wood Broun, with his It Seems to Me column.

In 1931, Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen started an expose column on Washington politics and political figures that made significant disclosures of graft and scandal, ending what had become too cozy a relationship between the press and politicians, and initiating a new style of sharp, aggressive political reporting. Pearson, one of the most durable and prominent of all columnists, continued writing in this vein, as did Paul Mallon, in his News Behind the News.

However, the main trend of Washington reporting was toward interpretation of events rather than expose. During the Depression, and in the period following, scores of commentators rushed to explain or berate the New Deal. Notable were Raymond Clapper for objective analysis, Eleanor Roosevelt for her liberality, and the vitriolic, anti-New Deal Westbrook Pegler. Later famous political columnists included Joseph and Stewart Alsop, Marquis Childs, Doris Fleeson, Ernest K. Lindley, Dorothy Thompson, and James Reston.

Columnists in other areas included Hearst editor Arthur Brisbane, who established the abbreviated mode of later tabloid editorials in his widely syndicated Today column; such Broadway and Hollywood gossip writers as Leonard Lyons, Dorothy Kilgallen, Louella Parsons, and Hedda Hopper, who wrote in the usually flamboyant style set by Walter Winchell in the 1920's; sports columnists Grantland Rice and Arthur Daley; and the advice-to-the-lovelorn specialists, Dorothy Dix, Ann Landers, and Abigail Van Buren.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)