Writing columns for fun, not profit

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 27, 2004

We put out a call last week for columnists to contribute regularly to our editorial page.

Response has been good so far, with a couple of Suffolk residents stepping forward.

One is Roger Leonard, whose weekly column will debut Tuesday. Leonard, owner of the Cardinal Pilot Shop at Suffolk Executive Airport, failed in a bid last month to unseat Whaleyville borough Councilman Curtis Milteer.

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Leonard, a student of government, will write about government issues. I look forward to the perspective he’ll add to the paper.

I hope others step forward to join Leonard. Writing a column is not that tough. For example, I’m sitting in my living room on Friday night having a libation while my 15-year-old son is sitting on the couch watching Beavis and Butthead. And I’m getting paid for it. It’s pretty cool.

You, however, will not be getting paid. That’s been once of the main queries I’ve had from people interested in giving it go. The reasons for that are many, perhaps tops among them being that I don’t have access to a whole lot of money.

National columns we’ve run up until now are virtually free. Charley Reese, for example, costs me $5 a week for three columns. I suppose I could cough up $1.33 a week for Leonard’s column, but I would insult him by offering that. Reese, however, is syndicated and I suppose rakes in quite a bit.

Actually, I don’t get paid for writing a column. It’s just something I enjoy doing. I typically do it at home, not while I’m at the office where my employees expect me to do actual work. They’re weird that way.

So while you’re not going to get rich being a Suffolk News-Herald columnist, you will get is a forum to express your opinions and to perhaps positively influence life in our community. You’ll also serve an important role in helping us provide Suffolk with a real community newspaper, based in Suffolk, concerned only about Suffolk.

Our news staff is small and it’s about all we can do to cover the news every day. We need your help in providing a relevant opinion page.

The invitation to join the News-Herald stable of columnists is not just for those with opinions, or the time or inclination to write regular columns. We’ll also take one-shot columns. This is an excellent opportunity for civic clubs or charitable organizations to launch fundraisers or provide news about other events. If you Lions are getting ready to tackle a project to raise money for some vision-relate project, please urge your president or project chairman to announce it through a column on our editorial page. It’s your newspaper. I hope you take advantage of it.

Inside today’s News-Herald, you’ll find our annual Sketchbook edition. It’s 120 pages, our biggest ever, and perhaps the best special section we’ve ever done. We’re proud of it.

Sketchbook is primarily a newcomer’s guide, but also contains something that I’m sure virtually every Suffolk resident can find useful.

Virtually every person in our building had a vital role in getting Sketchbook published, along with dozens upon dozens of businesses in the community that supported it through advertising. I appreciate each and every one of them and encourage you to give Sketchbook a look. I think you’ll find it to be pretty handy.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611 or via e-mail at andy.prutsok@suffolknewsherald.com.