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Newspaper Columnists as Heroes

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"I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light/He's gotta be sure/And it's gotta be soon/And he's gotta be larger than life" -Jim Steinman

In the world I grew up in, newspaper columnists were heroes.

They were also larger than life.

My favorite was Mike Rokyo out of Chicago, whose "pull no punches" style of writing both angered and influenced the political elite. In a different era, columnists like Walter Lippmann had as much influence on the president as any cabinet member and were far more powerful than any senator, governor or congressman.

Unlike the faceless souls who compose the rest of the newspaper, columnists are stars and unique personalities. The public has a pretty good idea of who columnists are and what they are thinking. In my 10-year run as a syndicated columnist, I've met total strangers who can rattle off the names of all my family members. I've run into people on the street who were carrying around a column I had written years before. I've had people express anger over something I had written in the distant past, and I've met people who can quote from my writings like a bible student in Sunday school.

Columnists are the rock stars of the newspaper world. Suzette Martinez Standring is definitely a rock star.

Unlike many in the media world, Suzette is not one to brag on herself. Her own life story is compelling. Born in San Francisco to immigrant parents from the Philippines, she is the embodiment of their American dream. Inside the petite body of one of the most caring people I have ever known is a woman of steel and determination with an incredible work ethic.

I got to know Suzette well when she was president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and I was a board member. Columnists may be rock stars, but they are usually lead singers and not used to working collectively. Suzette got us to work collectively.

From humble beginnings, Suzette has become a syndicated columnist and television talk show host. She is an award-winning writer who is sought after to speak at the best and most prestigious conferences in the world.

Along with her career success, her world as a wife, mother and grandmother is the center of her universe. She is a role model for how to live a balanced and happy life.

She also has a keen journalistic eye for framing a story and her magnetic personality allowed her to have access to the best and the brightest in the media world.

That is why her first book, The Art of Column Writing, has been such a major success for several years and the second, The Art of Opinion Writing, will be even bigger.

She takes the collective wisdom of some of the very best columnists of the past century and puts their insights into a format that everyone can learn from.

Anyone wanting to learn about column writing should immediately purchase a copy of The Art of Opinion Writing. Anyone wanting to learn about being a great columnist and great human being should take the time to get to meet Suzette. I'm happy that I've been able to do both.

In a world where we are looking out for heroes, Suzette is a great one to have.

Suzette's book,The Art of Opinion Writing and re-release of her earlier book, The Art of Column Writing, will be released on January 17, 2014 by RPP International Publishing and Digital Media. Don McNay is the Chairman of RRP International Publishing.