You might have noticed that there have been a few changes in the Capital Journal over the last month or so.

Our layout changed as did our colors and flag — that’s the big CJ logo on the top left of the front page. For the record, the blue we now use represents the river, our community’s defining geographic feature. We’re also changing the way we deliver news. You’ve likely noticed the twice weekly community Q&A features and shorter stories with more breakout boxes. Over the next weeks and months you’ll start to see a few more new story formats too. All of this is designed to make your newspaper easier to use.

Another part of our goal with the redesign is to be more responsive to you, our readers. Newspapers have developed some bad habits over the years, not the least of which has been sitting in our ivory towers too far removed from the communities we serve. We’re going to fix this problem.

Step One in that process is this editorial. We’re announcing the creation of a brand new reader advisory board. This new board will consist of 12 people from the Pierre and Fort Pierre areas. These people will represent the broadest possible spectrum of the communities the Capital Journal serves.

Once assembled, the board will meet every three months. During these meetings the board will hear from Capital Journal staff about the stories they covered and why. We’ll explain what went into some of the coverage decisions we made. Board members also will have the chance to talk about issues in the community they think need more coverage and will get the chance to tell us what we got wrong and why and how it could have been done better.

Consider this an open invitation to participate in our reader advisory board. If you want to join, send an email with a short note explaining why you want to be a member, why you think you’d be a good fit for the board and a little bit of your background in the community to our Editor Nick Lowrey at nick.lowrey@capjournal.com or our Publisher John Clark at John.clark@capjournal.com. We’re hoping to hold the reader advisory board’s first meeting during the last week of March so we’ll need applications in by March 18 to give us some time to select the board’s members.

We’re also hoping to relaunch our editorial board during the month of February. In the past we used the editorial board to help us shape our opinion page and editorials. The board’s members would provide insight and assistance in crafting local editorial columns on issues within the community. A few years ago we lost some key members of the editorial board and never got around to replacing them. We’re going to rectify that mistake this month.

We need at least four people willing to work with our editor and publisher to discuss issues within the community several times a week. The editorial board also has the occasional opportunity to speak with visiting dignitaries about the Pierre and Fort Pierre area. Over the last four years members of the board have met with consul generals from Japan, Great Britain, Canada and Mexico.

To apply for a position on the editorial board send an email with a short note explaining why you want to be a member, why you think you’d be a good fit for the board and a little bit of your background in the community to our Editor Nick Lowrey at nick.lowrey@capjournal.com or our Publisher John Clark at John.clark@capjournal.com. We’re hoping to hold the first meeting of the new editorial board in the last week of February so we’ll need applications in by Feb. 18 to give us time to select and notify new board members.

Feel free to ask either John Clark or Nick Lowrey questions about either board if you’ve got them.

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