Politics aside

By Jonathan Black

If you have been reading The Pendulum at all within the last year, or know me at all, you will know I take a lot of pride in The Last Word, our back page column.

So, when I saw there was a session entitled “Writing Political Columns,” there was no question about whether or not I’d attend—even if I don’t write about politics.

James Varney, a conservative (politics aside) political columnist for the Times-Picayune was the speaker. Varney had previously worked as a reporter covering multiple beats including, the New Orleans Saints, crime, and the Latin American Community, and made the change to columnist after the Picayune switched to a thrice-weekly publication.

Since my dream job would be the back-page columnist of Time Magazine, or to be Joel Stein, it was great to hear that people are still making a living of being a columnists, though I know they are in a minority.

Varney gave some helpful tints. The best being: If you’re going to be a columnist people are either going to think you’re an idiot or a genius, and you can’t let either affect you.

He also dropped helpful hints like if you want to write a column for a professional publication, it’s best to send five or six samples of your work so the editor can hear your voice. Also, a columnist should never rest on their writing ability, they still need to report.

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