Pitching is a skill that all journalists should master, whether freelancing is your main source of income or you're a student aiming to get a foot in the door and make better use of the portfolio acquired during your degree.
A strong pitch should sell a specific story, rather than just an idea, and it should also explain why the article or project should be published now, any why you are the best person to write it.
The guide we published earlier this year provides more advice about the structure and length of a pitch, and what additional information should it be accompanied by in an email to the editor, but there can also be specific requirements depending on which outlet you are pitching to.
Some news organisations have included posts on their website explaining in more detail what they look for when commissioning a story or a project, so we have aimed to collect as many as possible in this post.
We hope to keep building on this as a one-stop resource for pitching across all mediums and formats, so let us know what guides or posts we have omitted and we'll add them to the list below.
Features in New Scientist, the international science magazine, are mostly written by freelancers, so the editors have compiled a comprehensive guide on what type of submissions they are looking for.
For example, the magazine aims to "inform the widest possible audience", from people working in the field to those without a background in science.
Read through the guide for more information about pitching news stories and features, as well as examples of pitches that have been accepted and contact details of the commissioning editors for each section.
The UK general election is fast approaching, so if politics is more your thing, consider pitching to the New Statesman, who occasionally publishes pieces from outside contributors.
Follow the publication and its editors on Twitter to get a sense of what they're after. However, their guidelines make it clear that they are not looking for pitches that respond to Twitter feuds or "obvious trolling by Katie Hopkins, Piers Morgan or Brendan O'Neill".
Fusion's Voices vertical, edited by Nona Willis Aronowitz, is less of a traditional opinion section and more a "space for longer, more considered essays and narrative features from progressive writers", according to her.
That includes stories that have a social justice angle, on topics such as race, class, gender, LGBTQ issues, immigration, pop culture and more.
In this post, Aronowitz outlines the type of story you can pitch – longform, think pieces and news-pegged essays can take various forms. She also advises leading with your idea, not your bio, even you have a diploma from a renowned university.
The New York Times Modern Love column
The column's editor, Daniel Jones, and a part-time member of staff, read through the submissions and publish the best ones.
Here's Jones' official guide for a successful essay submission, explaining how the pieces are chosen. Nothing but real names and situations are accepted, and make sure your story explores a new angle on modern dating or highlights how these interactions are different today, as opposed to writing about jealousy or being cheated on.
The Establishment is a multimedia site funded and run by women. It covers culture, politics, arts, health and more.
It aims to be inclusive and feature a variety of voices and perspectives and it encourages anyone from photographers to musicians to share their original reporting and to help "unearth overlooked stories".
Check out this post describing what information you should include alongside your pitch, which also outlines their freelance rates.
Huck Magazine describes itself as a publication that "celebrates and explores independent culture - people and movements that paddle against the flow". It features news stories, profiles, interviews and photo essays, and original documentaries can also be commissioned.
Send ideas not stories, as the editors want to work with you to help shape the story. The guidelines also include contact details and the specialism of each editor, as well as tips on the format of each type of story, from opinion to travel diaries.
Non-profit US organisation ProPublica, who focuses on investigative journalism in the public interest, has a reporting network you can join if you'd like to be informed about upcoming investigations the team is working on.
Joining the network is free and easy – just fill out this form outlining your experience and interests. You could use your skills and expertise to help with anything, from collaborative data projects to investigations into housing discrimination or college debt.
The Washington Post has an online platform called the Talent Network, which editors use to commission freelance pieces and freelancers can also use to pitch to different sections of the outlet.
To become part of the network, register for free on the website and include samples of your work. However not everyone's requests get approved, but if there is need for reporting in your area, your application will be expedited, the guidelines say.
You can find out more about the Post's Talent Network in this Nieman Lab article.
Kira Cochrane, editor of the Guardian's opinion section, has written an article explaining what she looks for in the pieces that do get commissioned on the site. She advises not to send the complete article at first, as it limits the collaboration between the writer and the editor(s) to shape the piece, and avoid emailing more than two ideas at a time, because it implies the journalist hasn't spent time honing the pitches for that specific section.
And if you have a feature in mind that you think would be suitable for the outlet, Jessica Reed, features editor of Guardian US, has written a few helpful posts on Medium, outlining what type of stories she is interested in and how a pitch can stand out in her inbox.
Reed also ran a pitch clinic on Medium for about two months, in which she reviewed pitches sent by freelancers and pointed out their strengths and weaknesses, with practical tips for improving them to increase the chances of their ideas being commissioned. All pitches are anonymous, so you can email her or tag your post with #pitchclinic on Medium to get her feedback.
BuzzFeed's Ideas section looks for "unique, well-told personal essays that people will want to share", according to this post from executive editor for culture, Doree Shafrir. Shafrir provides some pointers for figuring out if the story you have in mind is worth telling, explains what topics BuzzFeed Ideas covers, and includes some examples of essays that have been published recently.
There is also a separate guide for pitching personal essays, profiles and features to BuzzFeed LGBT. BuzzFeed News' LGBT editor Shannon Keating provides successful examples from each category and explains what to include in your email, such as specifying the pitch is time sensitive in the subject line if that is the case.
The UK edition of Wired magazine has a guide for contributors updated in 2016, which explains in detail what different sections the magazine covers and how you can pitch to them, as well as an overview of what happens after you've hit 'send' on an email.
You may be aware that Quartz covers business stories from a global perspective, and that the outlet has certain topics its journalists write about regularly, called 'obsessions'.
But the website also has an 'ideas' section, which encompasses articles that "often discuss topics in the news right now", the majority of which are written by readers and contributors. Check out this post from Ideas editor Paul Smalera for a detailed look at what he looks for in pitches and what qualifies as a story for Quartz Ideas.
The Atlantic's culture section examines "questions people have long had but never quite identified", according to the publication's editors. They explain what stories they are after in this post on the website, with examples of what they are likely to accept.
If you want to pitch an in-depth digital feature or project to Al Jazeera English, it's worth knowing from the get go the department receives around 100 pitches a week.
But this Medium post from AJ Labs, a collective name for the broadcaster's data, visual storytelling and experiments team, explains what the pitching process and the format of pitches is like for Al Jazeera English, and points out that even if your pitch gets rejected, this "isn't always a reflection of the quality of the pitch".
Atlas Obscura calls itself the "definitive guide to the world's wondrous and curious places", so if you think you've come across something unique or unusual, this publication is a good starting point.
This document explains what type of stories you can pitch to the website and outlines the themes Atlas Obscura will be covering every month until December 2016. Before you send your pitch however, bear in mind editors are looking for reporting, rather than opinion pieces.
Vox, the US outlet known for its explanatory journalism, is accepting pitches for its First Person section, which publishes narrative essays that help shed light on a particular issue.
Pitches do not have to have a US angle, so check out these guidelines to find out what topics have been most successful for this section, and what you should include in your pitch or draft before emailing.
This American Life
If you have an idea that would work best in audio format, fear not, as radio shows or podcast producers may be interested in picking it up.
This American Life, the radio programme behind the successful Serial podcast, accepts pitches for stories that explain clearly "who the characters are and what the conflict is", according to the website. Note that the show focuses on "stories with a plot", and there is no need to email the accompanying audio when you initially send your written pitch.
Code Switch is an NPR section that focuses on issues of race, ethnicity and culture, which has recently launched a podcast too.
To pitch to Code Switch, the team advises steering clear of essays and criticism pieces, and instead focus on "hooking us with a riveting narrative". And if you are pitching a story based on personal experience, it is more likely to catch their attention if it relates to a broader set of experiences, even if it doesn't fall under a topic that everybody is talking about right now.
This article was updated on 11 May 2017 with pitching guidelines from eight additional news organisations.
Free daily newsletter
- 3 automated transcription tools for journalists
- The new workshop at Quartz aims to promote a culture of innovation in the organisation
- Latest virtual reality project from the Guardian lets viewers experience the first year of life
- Tip: Take note of this advice to become a better writer
- Tip: Here's how to keep photo captions simple yet informative