The other day, I was bemoaning the dearth of high-quality daily newspaper columnists in the line of classic writers such as Herb Caen and Mike Royko. In a Guardian article today, Cristina Odone proposes that mainstream newspapers could save themselves by hiring high-grade columnists.
Now, vocal evangelists of blogging will suggest that we already have these columnists: They're bloggers. And while I'm sure services like Pluck's BlogBurst may be able to help active bloggers find a more column-like readership, there are enough differences between blogging and writing a high-quality column that we can't depend on bloggers alone.
So where do we turn? The National Society of Newspaper Columnists might be a good place to start, especially its annual column writing contest.
I also turn to you. Who are your favorite newspaper columnists? Who do you think captures your community in a manner similar to Caen and Royko? What columnists should I be reading?