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Ask Amy takes over for Ann Landers

Published Sep. 1, 2005

Newspaper readers who once turned to Ann Landers for advice can now ask Amy.

Amy Dickinson, a journalist who raised her daughter as a single mother and worked as a receptionist, lounge singer and Sunday school teacher, will take over Landers' advice column, the Chicago Tribune said Wednesday.

The column, named Ask Amy: Advice for the Real World by Amy Dickinson, begins July 20 and will run seven days a week in the Tribune. Worldwide syndication with Tribune Media Services will begin Sept. 1.

The St. Petersburg Times currently carries the Dear Abby column and advice columns by Carolyn Hax. "We're pretty satisfied with what we've got, but we'll review the Ask Amy column to see if it would be a good complement," said managing editor Neil Brown.

Dickinson's new column will fill a void created by the death of Esther "Eppie" Lederer, who for nearly five decades doled out advice to thousands of readers under the name Ann Landers.

Lederer died last year at 83. Her column appeared in 1,200 newspapers worldwide with 90-million readers daily.

The Tribune also will continue to publish the daily Dear Abby column. It formerly was written by Lederer's sister, Pauline Phillips, and now is written by Lederer's niece, Jeanne Phillips.

Dickinson, 43, a distant relative of poet Emily Dickinson, grew up reading Ann Landers and developed a love for the genre because "I've been taking advice my whole life _ soliciting it, asking for it, and then following it."

Her interest is rooted in the belief that communities benefit if individuals have healthy personal lives.

"If you can heal a relationship with a child, a cousin, an ex-friend, an ex-husband, a prickly mother-in-law, I feel like your life is better, their lives are better, your family is better off," she said Wednesday.

Dickinson wants her new column to appeal to a broad readership. "I'm really eager to do things differently than Eppie," she said, including giving men a greater voice in the column.

Tribune editor Ann Marie Lipinski said Dickinson distinguished herself during the job search with answers to posed questions.

"Amy just kept answering questions with tremendous common sense, some from the head, some from the heart and that, combined with her reporting skills, to me, made a very potent candidate."

Dickinson said she relates to readers because her life is like theirs.

"I work for a living. I have taken some big chances professionally and I've paid for it. I've been unable to find a babysitter and unable to afford one. I haven't been out on New Year's Eve in 10 years. I have the kinds of problems that normal people have because I'm a normal person," she said.

After her divorce 12 years ago, Dickinson supported herself and her daughter, now 14, by writing a weekly column, carried on America Online's News Channel, about her experiences as a single mother.

For the past several years, her commentaries have appeared in Time magazine and been featured on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.