Pitch to me, 2019 edition!

Jessica Reed
Feb 28, 2019 · 5 min read

You might also want to read: how to pitch to me (2015); I pay, you write (2017); how NOT to pitch editors (2017)

It’s been a while since I shared what pieces I’m looking for — which surely means you have been sending me enough good ideas to keep me away from Medium! But happy circumstances being what they are — the fantastic Summer Sewell joined my team as assistant features editor — I thought it was time for an update.

What I am looking for in 2019

Less, but better.

More narrative journalism, less mid-range news features.

More dialogue, more nuance, more complexities and ambivalence, less reaction pieces.

I’d like to put an emphasis on quality writing: sentences that make you weep; scenes that will stay with you forever; stories crazy enough you want to tell them at dinner parties.

I know this is a touchy subject, but for proper long form pieces, I’d like to receive more fleshed-out pitches (say, 5–8 paragraphs or more showing you have thought about who to reach out to and how, with some pre-reporting if applicable). I know this takes time and effort, but if I am committing to paying for travel, expenses and word count, not to mention for photography and art, I need to know the goods will be there once you hit the ground.

So, I hear you say, you’d like some examples? See below. (As I write this, I realise that every single story I loved editing pretended to be about something small, when really illuminated something much bigger about our world. Something to keep in mind…)

Stories with unforgettable central characters

Image for post
Picture by Hans-Maximo Musielik.
  • Bryan Mealer’s piece on the caravan was not only beautifully crafted, I will never, ever forget the family he followed. (He’s also a crazy-good writer, which helps).
  • His piece about a road trip with his Trump-loving 92 year old cousin was bursting with empathy for humankind.

Stories about subcultures

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Photography by Ali Smith

Crime stories — with strong narrative or reporting element

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Picture by Max Burkhalter

Stories about class in America (aka the underdogs)

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Picture: Audra Mulkern

Yep. This is still the topic I am obsessed with. So go forth and pitch…

Gut-punch essays

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Illustration: Celine Loup

Profiles to remember

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What are American values? (Problematic or not)

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Picture: Imani Khayyam

It’s a weird category but everything Donna Ladd did for us this year about (some part of) white people culture and their relationship to race has been mind-blowingly good.

Any story acting as a conduit to ponder the nature of US values, I will usually love. (Here’s another: Guns v grief: inside America’s deadliest cultural chasm).

Plain great f — ing writing that doesn’t go in any of the categories above

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Picture by Tim Hussin

Think pieces that are actually worth something (I know…)

Summer really enjoyed reading this in The Atlantic, so did I. She has a soft spot for “totally obscure shit” (like this), and so do I. We are also suckers for great food journalism!

Lastly….

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Picture: Max Burkhalter

I love a good stunt and I really do not receive enough pitches that make me laugh. My favorite of the year was Adam Gabbatt’s insane meat diet.

Get in touch:

jessica.reed at theguardian dot com; summer.sewell at theguardian dot com

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