Jeff Pieters: Got what it takes to be a community columnist?
Adults can apply for the summer-long program now through June 22.
Hard to believe, but this year's group of teen columnists already is hitting the finish line. Some of them have filed their final columns, and we'll see the last of them by June 28.
Eek! That means I'm a couple of weeks overdue putting out the invitation to apply to be one of this summer's group of community columnists.
For those who are new or who have forgotten, we started the community columnist program last year. I invited members of the southeastern Minnesota community, ages 18 and up, to apply to write two to three columns over the course of the summer. The program relieves my teen group from having to compose columns over the course of the summer, and it gives us an opportunity here at the Post Bulletin to introduce a collection of new voices to our readers.
Last year's group was golden, and in fact two of the writers — Craig Wruck and Nick Mezacapa — continue to contribute their work occasionally. (You can find Nick's latest in today's paper, in fact.)
You may be asking yourself: What is Pieters looking for in a community columnist? I'd like to find people with interesting and diverse backgrounds and life experiences, people who bring a curiosity and fresh perspective to their life and words, and ideally people who are able to see more than one side of an issue and spark thoughtful reflection or conversation — the civil kind, hopefully.
Political topics are not taboo, but if you're a partisan warrior, this may not be the opportunity for you. And given that this is an election year, if you're an office-seeker or handler of one, fuhgeddaboudit.
You'll notice I didn't say you had to be a great writer. Last year's group encompassed a wide range of writing abilities, and if you're no Hemingway, our editors can do a lot to help make your copy flow. We don't expect professional writing quality, but you do have to be comfortable expressing yourself in sentences and paragraphs. We can only do so much.
So, think you've got what it takes to be one of these 10 good men and women? The application process is fairly easy: Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a call, 507-285-7748, and I'll ask you to send me a note. A phone call, though, is a good way for me to answer questions about the program, so do feel free to call. The application deadline will be June 22, so don't dilly-dally.
Did I mention there will be pay for this? There will be, but it's nothing like a livable wage. You can probably take yourself and a friend out to lunch on the proceeds from one column. But that's better than nothing, right?
This is an important program to get more people involved with their community newspaper, but it's not the only outlet we have. I'm also still going to select members this month for a stint on a readers advisory panel, and you can apply for that the same way that I described for community columnist.
Thanks for reading and supporting your Post Bulletin. As always, please feel free to be in touch with questions, comments or concerns you have, and we'll take your story tips, too.
Jeff Pieters is editor of the Post Bulletin. He can be reached by phone, 507-285-7748, or email, email@example.com.