Guest columns: readers respond.A retired woman tells the moving story of how many lives were brightened by a retarded boy before he died.
A combat veteran defends a South Vietnamese general accused of a war crime.
A black businesswoman confronts the racism she grew up with - and frankly acknowledges her own mistakes.
For readers of the Beaumont Enterprise, a mid-sized Hearst daily in Southeast Texas Southeast Texas is a subregion of East Texas located in the southeast corner of the U.S. state of Texas. The subregion is geographically centered around the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown and Beaumont–Port Arthur metropolitan areas. , those tales and many others have become regular fare on their editorial pages thanks to an art form neglected by many newspapers - the local guest column.
Like many of my colleagues, I eagerly scan the opinion pages of other newspapers whenever I can, always looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. new ideas "New Ideas" is the debut single by Scottish New Wave/Indie Rock act The Dykeenies. It was first released as a Double A-side with "Will It Happen Tonight?" on July 17, 2006. The band also recorded a video for the track. or a fresh twist on old ones. What I invariably in·var·i·a·ble
Not changing or subject to change; constant.
in·vari·a·bil see is the same general mix of editorials, letters, cartoons, and syndicated columns. What I rarely encounter - even in big dailies that have millions of subscribers - is a guest column, a longer piece written by a reader that opens a door to his or her part of the world or showcases something that just can't be crammed cram
v. crammed, cram·ming, crams
1. To force, press, or squeeze into an insufficient space; stuff.
2. To fill too tightly.
a. To gorge with food. into the 250-300 word limit for letters.
When I moved from a smaller nearby daily to the Enterprise, I was proud that I increased the frequency of local guest columns to two or three per week. But our new editor, Tim Kelly Timothy Patrick Kelly (January 13, 1963 - February 5, 1998) was the guitarist for the band Slaughter. He was tragically killed in an auto accident in 1998. Jeff Blando replaced Kelly's guitar spot in Slaughter in 1998. , raised the bar even higher, asking, "Can we have one each day?" Inwardly in·ward·ly
1. On or in the inside; within: a window opening flared inwardly.
2. Privately; to oneself: I blanched blanch also blench
v. blanched also blenched, blanch·ing also blench·ing, blanch·es also blench·es
1. To take the color from; bleach.
2. , wondering whether I could scare up that much original material from our readers.
But we charged (or stumbled) down that ambitious trail anyway, and to my pleasant surprise our readers responded. By simply running the columns with such regularity and identifying them with a catchy graphic (regrettably dropped in a redesign), we were able to send a clear message to our subscribers: Send us your stories, the kinds of heartbreakers and spleen-venters and nostalgia pieces that don't come out of the pros in Washington or the state capital, and we'll run 'em (or at least a bunch of them).
The result, I think, is some darned darned
Adj. 1. darned - expletives used informally as intensifiers; "he's a blasted idiot"; "it's a blamed shame"; "a blame cold winter"; "not a blessed dime"; "I'll be damned (or blessed or darned or good reading and best of all, some darned good reading that invariably isn't available in other publications or even on the Internet.
Every now and then, when particularly good writers connect with an especially moving or informative or funny topic, the authors tell me that two things happened: 1.) The phone started ringing at 7 a.m from delighted readers and didn't stop all day, and 2.) They heard from people they haven't talked to in years, some of whom they'd even lost contact with.
As with most things on our pages, variety is the goal. We have a local historian who writes about events that no one else remembers. Several times, the head of the local mental health association has shed new light on this familiar problem - and told me that her colleagues in other cities are puzzled and disappointed that they can't get similar space in their newspapers. A teacher at a rural high school regularly turns out humorous columns that read like modern-day James Thurber Noun 1. James Thurber - United States humorist and cartoonist who published collections of essays and stories (1894-1961)
James Grover Thurber, Thurber yarns.
And of course some of the best columns come from folks who write us once - gadflies who aren't afraid of going against the grain or just regular people who've had something extraordinary happen to them.
We've even dropped the once-a-month rule we have for letter writers, figuring that if someone can write two or three intriguing pieces a month (and some of our regulars do), we'll run them a week or two apart. If the local material slows down (as it invariably does) we plug in interesting columns from state or national sources that come in the mail.
About the only category that's off-limits is the usual political harangue, like why Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich (or both of them) are idiots. The syndicated columnists Inc.com defines a syndicated columnist as, "[A] person hired by publications or broadcast organizations to produce written or spoken commentary about specific feature subjects. and letter writers cover that turf pretty well, and unless a guest columnist has an intriguing angle on these shopworn stories, we wouldn't be giving our readers something different.
And I hope this doesn't sound cheap, but we don't pay our guest columnists. Even in a medium-sized market with pretty average demographics, our readers are generating enough copy just for the fun and prestige of bringing their opinion to hundreds of thousands of people.
One thing I insist upon is a photograph of the writer that we can use for a column sig. To me a personal column without a face is just off-putting. And that's a logistical chore, of course, just as it is to get a clerk to type the columns into our computer system (although more are coming from readers via e-mail). But if a one-person band like me can do it, so can other editorial page editors, not to mention those who actually have staffs.
All I'm saying is that it works for us. Ask your readers to be your guest: They just might take you up on it.
NCEW NCEW National Conference of Editorial Writers member Thomas Taschinger is opinion editor of the Beaumont Enterprise. His e-mail address See Internet address.
e-mail address - electronic mail address is ttaschinbeaumontenterprise.com