#nsnc14dc: Crafting Columns, Getting Them Known

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Why were we here, besides for our writer friends and some sight­see­ing? To get bet­ter. Speak­ers at the 2014 con­fer­ence of the National Soci­ety of News­pa­per Colum­nists dis­cussed pol­i­tics, gov­ern­ment and his­tory, but the focus was on devel­op­ment of our skills. Hence, two wrap-up pieces.

John Avlon, Eric Heyl, Alexandra Petri and Ben Pollock after the morning session of the NSNC conference Saturday, June 28, 2014.

John Avlon (from left), Eric Heyl, Alexan­dra Petri and Ben Pol­lock after the morn­ing ses­sion of the NSNC con­fer­ence Sat­ur­day, June 28, 2014. Suzette Mar­tinez Stan­dring photo

I tried to live-tweet a lot except when called away on con­fer­ence busi­ness. (Nature called at times, too.) Rather than para­graph­ing these notes, the fol­low­ing com­prises head­ings then the top quotes of speak­ers, anno­tated as needed. Other con­fer­ees posted live as well, and I bor­row from them. For var­i­ous rea­sons, some sec­tions are longer.

“Indus­try Changes and Strate­gies for Suc­cess” — Con­nie Schultz, Cre­ators Syn­di­cate colum­nist and win­ner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary

There is a skill and a craft to col­umn writ­ing that is abet­ted by age and expe­ri­ence.” “I don’t know a colum­nist who doesn’t spend a lot of time talk­ing. Use some of that time on Face­book.” “Being on social media as a colum­nist helps you con­trol what is said about you in other media.” “We are the gate­keep­ers for our own image.” “Don’t cre­ate envy in peo­ple,” so down­play or avoid ref­er­ences to your rel­a­tive afflu­ence. “If I were any more trans­par­ent I’d be plas­tic wrap,” on dis­clos­ing her mar­riage to Sen. Sher­rod Brown, D-Ohio.  “They will always accuse you of bias. That doesn’t mean it exists.”

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#nsnc14dc: Columnists in the Capital & Beyond

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