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Because the earliest American newspapers were political vehicles, much of their news stories brimmed with commentary and opinion. This practice continued up until the Civil War. Horace Greeley, a popular editor who had regularly espoused partisanship in his New York Tribune, was the first to give editorial opinion its own page separate from the news.

As newspapers grew into instruments of mass communication, their editors sought balance and fairness on the editorial pages and began publishing a number of columns with varying viewpoints.

Famous Washington, D.C.-based columnist Jack Anderson was known for bringing an investigative slant to the editorial page. Art Buchwald and Molly Ivins became well known for their satirical look at government and politicians. George Will and Fareed Zakaria are known for their keen analysis and opinions about government and world events. In addition, newspapers and magazines have their own Web sites containing the columns of their opinion columnists, extending the influence and reach of their columnists. 

The recent growth of stand-alone news and opinion Web sites dedicated to news, politics, and cultural matters has added more opportunities for columnists to reach more people through these Web-based media outlets.

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