Saturday, August 05, 2006

A columnist writes about newspaper columnists

Ian Jack, in the Guardian Review, is a favourite Saturday read for me. His column today is about newspaper columns. He points out that “until the late 20th century a column in a newspaper .... was a rare ornament to the plain stuff of news”.

Today they’re as common as something that there’s quite a lot of (sorry similes aren’t a strong point for me). But he wonders how long the form will survive: “Anyone can write a blog, and even some newspaper columnists write them. If informality is one of the aims of the column, then how does it differ from a blog?

In his early days as a journalist he was told by an early exponent of the form that "the trouble with columns is that you have to keep on doing the bloody things". As Alan Bennett’s character, a sermonising ineffectual curate, might have said ‘some of us think that [blogging]’s a bit like that’.

At the end of the column, Mr Jack makes a Terrible Revelation but I won’t spoil the surprise in case you, too, are a fan of his.......

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