By: E&P Staff
Joan Ryan is putting her syndicated San Francisco Chronicle column on hiatus, perhaps for a year, in order to write features for the newspaper.
United Media is temporarily replacing Ryan in its Newspaper Enterprise Association package with Tad Bartimus of UM’s United Feature Syndicate. (Bartimus’ column will also still be available via UFS.) Meanwhile, UM is working on signing another columnist to take Ryan’s NEA slot, a syndicate spokesperson told E&P.
Ryan, who’s been writing a column for most of the past 22 years, said in today’s farewell-for-now piece that working on a recent series made her realize that she’d like to concentrate on features for a while.
“(W)riting the ‘War Without End’ series, which was about two American soldiers who lost both their legs in the Iraq war, was a revelation,” Ryan said in today’s column. “It challenged me to think and write in a different way. I had to learn how to let the drama unfold at just the right pace, how to bring people to life on the pages, how to write scenes in a way that advances the story line. It was like writing a novel, which is so different from what I have done most of my career. Writing columns often feels like skipping a stone across a lake. Tight deadlines and limited space mean you can’t go into much depth.”
But Ryan will also miss being a columnist. “It allows me to figure out what I think about things,” she wrote, adding that “I get to talk to really smart people and ask whatever I want. I get to parachute into people’s lives, sit at their kitchen tables, and listen to their stories. I get to carry issues I care about onto the public stage and shine a light on them.”
Ryan said she hopes the feature stories she writes over the new few months will “explore in a deeper way the themes I have found myself returning to again and again in my column — family, justice, morality, and education, among others.”