My newspaper column, Looking Back, will start appearing in its fifth newspaper this month when the York Dispatch begins publishing it. Looking Back is a local history column that tends to look at the history stories you won’t read about in textbooks.
I have a lot of fun writing about these stories that I find. I’ve been writing these columns since 2004, although I only began trying to get the column into other newspapers a few years ago. Unlike a syndicated column in which the same story is run in all of the newspapers that pick up the column, Looking Back is unique content targeted for that newspapers readership. Sometimes I may write about the same topic, such as the Spanish Flu, but I always focus on how that topic affected each newspaper’s readership.
The other newspapers currently running my Looking Back column are:
Newspapers like the column because as one editor put it, “It’s value-added content.” Readers like it because it’s local and about people and places they may know. They also seem to like the topics, by and large, so I guess I’m a pretty good judge of what makes a good story. The column in the Cumberland Times-News won an MDDC Press Association award this year for best local column.
I’m still trying to get the column into a couple more newspapers. I know that it adds to my workload not to truly syndicate the columns, but it’s the fact that the columns aren’t syndicated that makes them valued by newspapers and readers.
I’d like to think that because of my extra effort to make history interesting to readers is paying off by getting people more interested in history in general. That seems to be the consensus from people who talk to me about the columns.