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Political Columnists and Writers

History

Writers have been reporting and commenting on politics and government ever since newspapers and magazines were first published. The first American newspaper, Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick, appeared in Boston in 1690, but lasted only one issue due to censorship by the British government. The first continuously published paper in America was the Boston News-Letter, first published in 1704. In 1728, Benjamin Franklin began publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette, which many historians and scholars consider to be the New York Times of the 18th century; it has been influential in setting a high standard for American journalists. Franklin also published the first magazine in the colonies, The American Magazine, in 1741. The first daily newspaper, the Pennsylvania Evening Post, began publication in 1783.

Because the earliest American newspapers were political vehicles, much of their news stories brimmed with commentary and opinion. This practice continued up until the Civil War. Horace Greeley, a popular editor who had regularly espoused partisanship in his New York Tribune, was the first to give editorial opinion its own page separate from the news. As newspapers grew into instruments of mass communication, their editors sought balance and fairness on the editorial pages and began publishing a number of columns with varying viewpoints. Today, many political columnists and writers are well known and reach a national and even international audience. For example, George Will, Kathleen Parker, and Fareed Zakaria are known for their keen analysis and opinions about government and world events.

The invention of radio and television in the 20th century and the growth of news and commentary on the Internet in the 21st century have only added to the power of political columnists and writers as their thoughts, ideas, and opinions are read and heard by millions or even billions throughout the world.