Twice a year, The Olympian recruits a new community representative to serve a one-year term on its editorial board. If you want to help set the newspaper’s opinion page agenda over the next 12 months — including next fall’s important state and federal midterm elections — then now is the time to apply.
We are taking self-nominations until 5 p.m. Friday. The opportunity is open to everyone, including those who have served in the past.
The editorial board provides the official voice of the newspaper through daily editorials appearing in this space. It includes two community representatives who serve overlapping terms, one beginning Jan. 1 and the other July 1.
The paper’s publisher, senior columnist and senior editor comprise the remainder of the board on a permanent basis. But all editorial board members have an equal say in shaping the newspaper’s official position on issues of the day, including candidate endorsements.
It is something of a rarity for daily newspapers in Washington to include representation from community members on their editorial boards. The Olympian began adding a citizen voice to its board in 1992.
The outcome of that experiment proved so beneficial to both the newspaper and the individual that a second community representative was added. Not long ago, we heard from past community representatives that they found the original six-month term too short, and we extended them to a full year.
Community representative Doug Mah, former mayor of Olympia and City Council member who now operates his own management and public affairs business, is finishing his yearlong term Dec. 31. Halfway through her term is our other community representative, Kate Severson, a state Department of Transportation computer-aided engineer, Army veteran and cancer survivor.
Community representatives actively participate in weekly editorial board meetings at the newspaper offices. The meetings usually involve guests from city councils, private or nonprofit organizations, directors of state departments and the even the governor.
Board members ask questions and then help shape opinions during ensuing discussions, which are often lively. Community representatives later comment on draft editorials before they are published. They also offer ideas for editorial topics of interest to the community and suggest individuals or groups to invite to editorial board meetings.
The next year will be especially busy for the editorial board with a full slate of statewide and federal candidates for public office.
Anyone interested in serving as a community representative should send a self-nomination letter to The Olympian. Include information about your ethnic heritage, educational background, work experience and community involvement. Explain why you want to serve on the board and what you would bring to the board’s deliberations.
Send your self-nomination via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and put “Editorial board” in the subject line.
Remember the deadline is 5 p.m., Friday. We look forward to hearing from you.