If you want to write for a newspaper, you should first develop one or two writing specialties. Even if you have a lot of writing experience, unless you’ve written extensively in one or two areas, you’re unlikely to get hired as a newspaper columnist. If you want to be a newspaper columnist of any kind, you’ll probably need a degree in journalism, communications, or English, unless you’re going to run your own publication.
If you want to start your own Internet newspaper, you won’t need a degree. While starting your own newspaper is a good idea if you have the skills and time to produce a high-quality publication, you will almost certainly need a degree if you want to work as a full-time columnist for someone else. If you want to be a newspaper columnist but don’t have a journalism, communications, or English degree, earning one while starting your own online newspaper could be a good option. Make certain that any online educational program you choose is properly accredited and accepted newspaper employers. A good online education is valued most employers in all industries, and it can be a convenient way for people to work or pursue other interests while pursuing their degree.
Whether you decide to start your own online newspaper or not, look for other high-quality publications on the Internet and contact them about contributing a piece or two as a guest writer. Make sure your name or byline appears on the piece so you can link to it and provide a quality clip for potential employers. Because online guest writing jobs rarely pay well, you should only do it if the publication will impress potential employers and provide you with a platform to demonstrate your abilities. If you want to be a newspaper columnist, you’ll need reputable published clips or writing samples, whether your specialty is politics or gardening.
Examine the publications for which you hope to write now or in the future. This includes reading the ads and editorials to get a good sense of who each paper’s target audience is. While your writing must effectively engage the target audience and conform to the overall style of the newspaper, the column you propose to contribute to the publication should reflect your personality. In other words, you want to bring something new to the newspaper while also maintaining the attention and satisfaction of current readers. If you want to be a newspaper columnist, finding the right balance is difficult, but it’s necessary and can be accomplished carefully studying publications that interest you.
When you’re ready to apply for a job as a newspaper columnist, be prepared to pitch column ideas. Prepare a list of possible names for your column, as well as questions for the editor who will be interviewing you. Newspaper columnists are expected to be not only knowledgeable and experienced in their field, but also to be creative thinkers who adhere to editorial guidelines. If you write a daily or weekly newspaper column, you’ll need to keep coming up with new ideas on a regular basis; the hiring editor will want to see evidence of that quality in you during the interview. If you want to be a newspaper columnist, you’ll have to persuade the editor that you’re the best candidate for the job.