A few weeks ago Eric Townsend called and asked if he could stop by for a chat. Eric, who directs the Elon University News Bureau didn’t say what he wanted and I didn’t ask. I figured it would be good to see him no matter what.
And it was.
Eric told me when he arrived at Elon a few years back — I was already in this job when he landed at Elon –he had an idea. He wanted to create a network of professors at Elon who would be part of a writers syndicate. It would provide columns on a variety of subjects to publications in North Carolina — perhaps beyond.
I was pretty stoked when he presented the proposal. Since my arrival back at the Times-News in 2007 I wanted to get more columns from professors at Elon — people who are experts in a wide variety of fields. Too often the syndicated columns we receive via our wire services are written by people with interests only in politics and the economy. It would help to break things up and also have people writing about local or state issues.
I told Eric so and welcomed the idea — even if it meant sharing what Elon writers provide with other newspapers. These days, there is far less crossover in circulation than there used to be so competition isn’t that keen.
In late April and early May the new Elon University Writers Syndicate began. So far, I’m very pleased with the results. Elon professors so far have written about the military, fracking, gay acceptance and an animal once indigenous to North Carolina which is now extinct. The submissions so far have been interesting, unsuual and local in scope. I think it will ultimately improve the content on our opinion and other pages.
An added attraction is this: We also have the option of asking that a professor take on a certain subject when it’s in the news. So far, I haven’t taken advantage of that, but we will at some point.
In all, 11 professors are on the roster of writers, including my friend Anthony Hatcher from the School of Communications and Dave Gammon, whose field is biology. Dave has contributed to our pages before — including a very informative series on global warming. Other contibutors come from the law school, and the areas of science, religion, history and literature. It’s a great well of knowledge and opinion.
The syndicate also has a website www.elon.edu/writers and Eric often uses social media to further broadcast newspapers using columns from the consortium.
I look forward to seeing more from the syndicate. And a thanks goes out Eric who put it all together.