NEW YORK (Reuters) - Quincy Jones, the Grammy Award-winning producer and composer, is following the lead of U2 frontman Bono by becoming a guest columnist as newspapers look for new ways to entice readers and survive an advertising slump.
Jones, 75, one of the three biggest Grammy winners of all time with 27 to his name, kicked off a new series in the Tribune Newspapers on Monday, offering his perspective on Barack Obama as the United States celebrated Martin Luther King Day.
The Tribune Company said this would be the first in a special series of viewpoints written by recognized figures in music and the arts, which would be carried by all the group’s newspapers and websites including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.
“A very small number of artists such as Quincy Jones transcend their success in music and have had a profound impact on American culture,” said Lee Abrams, chief innovation officer at the Tribune Company who came up with the idea.
“We believe that these icons have a perspective on life that will make for an interesting and unusual reading experience, and a peek at their lives that can’t be found in the traditional celebrity-oriented ways they are portrayed.”
In the piece, Jones tells how he watched last year’s U.S. election but resigned himself to tempering his emotions despite believing Obama was the best person for the job.
“But as a black man in America, I knew from experience to not let what I wanted to happen stray too far from the reality of what I knew could happen,” wrote Jones, who is a founding member of the Institute for Black American Music.
Jones’ column comes less than a week after Bono began writing an opinion column for the New York Times.
But Bono, 48, who is well known for campaigning against poverty and AIDS in Africa, chose not to use his first column for his favored causes but dedicated it to his mentor Frank Sinatra.
“I was lucky to duet with a man who understood duality, who had the talent to hear two opposing ideas in a single song, and the wisdom to know which side to reveal at which moment,” he wrote.
Bringing in celebrities as guest writers comes as the newspaper industry ponders its long-term survival, faced with a slump in advertising revenue as readers flee to the Internet.
Publishers have resorted to buyouts or layoffs in the past 12 months, among them The New York Times, The Washington Post Co, and Miami Herald publisher McClatchy Co.
Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Miral Fahmy