Columns are one of those universal writing forms that usually cross city, state and even international borders. It is rare for a column’s message to apply to only one person, city or institution. It is more likely that the information and anecdotes provided can connect all of us on a human level.
After reading, the “Best Newspaper Writing 2008-2009,” I have become obsessed with following up on some of the writers that made me love reporting and writing more than I already do. Connie Schultz was added to my list of writers to keep a look out for.
When I started my project of researching writers that moved me from our classroom book, I was skeptical that I would find consistency in writing for all cases. I mean anyone can write one good column or investigate one good story. All you have to do is be an average writer in the right place and at the right time. Right? Wrong. What I discovered was that many writers, Schultz included, write magical exposes on a regular basis. For reporters, their investigations are not just good every once in a while, they are good most of the time. And for columnists, their ideas are not just heart wrenching a couple of times a year, but most days that they write their columns.
For example, on Sunday morning, I went looking for a random column by Schultz. I went to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s website, (which is the exact same format as the Oregonian’s) and I began snooping around. I clicked on Schultz’s most recent column; it was about how the government should send letters to the families of soldiers offering their condolences even if the soldier committed suicide. It was quite moving. I would argue that it was even better than her column that was selected by the Poynter Institute for the “Best Newspaper Writing.”
Her column was not particularly timely, but it was timeless. It examined how debilitating it is for families who loose loved ones to suicide in war zones. She interviewed families, retired soldiers and others to give perspective to a usually dismissed topic. It was powerful because it wasn’t just one event happening right now. It was a greater topic and issue that transcended state lines. It meant something to me thousands of miles away. I guess a congratulations is in order to Schultz for her consistency in evoking emotion in people no matter where it is that they live.