I'm plucking this @jonkay — wait, sorry, j*n k*y — tweet out of a broader thread to make a somewhat out-of-context point (I don't assume he'd endorse it). Column writing is itself a particular skill, and it's more art than anything else. So you find it in weird places. + https://twitter.com/jonkay/status/1283081613543460865
Anyone, with good instruction and practice, can learn to write a decent article. But becoming any good at *being a columnist* is, to my view, something you can do or you can't.

And let's be clear what I even mean by good. I mean "good" in a very lowest-common-denominator way. +
Maybe all your takes are bad and you're consistently wrong about everything. (Setting myself up, I know.) For our purposes here, that doesn't matter — it's still only a small subset of the smart, news-consuming population that can put together 800-word arguments on deadline. +
The ability to do that doesn't matter for every kind of column — long-lead deadlines are possible in some fields. But if you're a news columnist, or even write generally on current events, you need to be able to react relatively quickly, and pull together lots of info, fast. +
Part of what I do is constantly seek out new contributors, and it's not hard at all to find people who'd be valuable addition for any number of reasons. The hard part is to find one of those people who can do that kind of contribution regularly on deadline. +
There are lots of people who have all the right stuff — the credentials, the intellectual knowledge, the lived-experience, the authentic moral authority — to make spectacular columnists, but they don't have whatever it is that would allow them to ... regularly write columns. +
Other people, who may only have some of those things, or absolutely none of them, but are good at the part of writing columns that actually involves WRITING COLUMNS, have a huge advantage.

And I have no idea what it is that those people have. +
With a lot of time and practice, this is definitely a skill you can develop. People who aren't natural writers can become entirely decent oped contributors. I love those people. But even a lot of those people couldn't do it every week, or even several times a week. +
I really don't think "columnist" is a skill you can teach, in the sense of taking someone who doesn't have it and then, at the end of the process, they have it. I think it's more like an artistic ability. You've got it or you don't.

To, put another way, as I just recently told someone, "Look, I can teach you to read music and how to play a piano. I can't make you Mozart."

So who ends up being the columnists you read consistently? The people who can write columns.

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