More Papers, and Purple Tapers

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By: Dave Astor

Winning the Pulitzer Prize this spring brought columnist Connie Schultz wider syndication, a book contract, a stint on a big-league mound, and purple tape on the floor around her desk.

“Newhouse News Service occasionally picked up my column before the Pulitzer, but I now write at least one general-interest column a week for them to distribute,” The Plain Dealer of Cleveland staffer tells E&P.

Many more Newhouse newspapers are running Schultz’s feature these days, according to Deborah Howell, who was NNS editor and Washington bureau chief until the end of July and will become ombud at The Washington Post in October.

“I’m getting mail from around the country,” confirms Schultz.

Howell says Schultz’s feature also goes to about 30 non-Newhouse papers — including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Austin American-Statesman, the Houston Chronicle, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and The Seattle Times.

“And we sell it on a one-shot basis — along with our other stories — through the New York Syndicate,” she adds.

Howell concludes: “We’re thrilled that Connie’s writing more columns that are applicable for the wire. I’m one of her biggest fans.”

Random House is also a fan, contacting Schultz about publishing a column collection. Schultz signed a contract in late June, and the book is scheduled to be released in May 2006.

Meanwhile, Schultz got to throw out the first pitch at a Cleveland Indians game. “I toed the rubber, I’ll have you know — no wussy standing in front of the pitcher’s mound — and got it to the plate,” she recalls. “But, alas, I hit the plate as well. If the third-stringer had reached at all, he would have caught it — or so I’m told by my loyal colleagues who attended.”

As for that purple tape, Schultz explains: “When a co-worker sent a snarky, anonymous e-mail to the editor that was distributed newsroom-wide asking why I still don’t have my own office, I was mortified and responded with a group e-mail insisting that I don’t want one. Nevertheless, the next day some of my colleagues marked out an office on the carpeting around my desk in purple tape and posted a sign over my chair that read, ‘Do not disturb.’ I loved it.”

Schultz notes that “it really is astonishing what happens when you win the Pulitzer. Lots of distractions, lots of invitations to take yourself too seriously. Fortunately, I have very good friends in the newsroom who would never let that happen.”

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