Submit a pitch

About pitching

Pitching is an essential part of the creative process. Pitching forces you to clarify the scope and focus of your story and enables an editor to provide constructive feedback on your idea before you start researching and writing.

A pitch is a 50 to 100-word summary of what your story will cover. It should summarize the story’s core thesis, outline a reporting strategy and set a realistic deadline for filing a first draft, which you will be expected to meet.

It is very important to put careful thought and consideration into your pitch. Trust us — this will save you spades of time down the road! In particular, your pitch should reflect that you’ve considered the following:

Your topic

  • Is your piece answering a question? Write down the key question your piece will answer. If you’re not able to articulate a question, your topic might not be clear to you. For example, consider how this student addresses the question: “How has Covid-19 affected U.S. media?” or how this student explores the question: “Can student journalists replace local news?”
  • Why does your story matter to a global audience? Will a young person elsewhere in the world be interested in your story? It’s fine for your topic to relate to local issues or personal experiences, but it should resonate with a global audience.
  • But I’m writing a personal piece! No problem. We welcome articles in the first person (using the pronoun “I”). But try to connect your personal reflections to a broader reality. Note how this author wrote about depression in personal terms while also citing experts, or the author of this story on fast fashion described her own shopping habits but also interviewed others and cited studies on fast fashion.

Original sources

  • How will you collect data? Do you know where you can find authoritative, primary source material on your topic? It is not sufficient to rely on secondary sources such as Wikipedia or newspaper articles.
  • Who will you interview? Can you identify two individuals or organizations you could approach for an interview? (Interviews can be conducted in person or by phone, video or email.) If you can’t think of someone to interview, feel free to state this in your pitch.
  • Do your sources capture opposing viewpoints? Does the research and interviewing you plan to do seem likely to capture different outlooks? Your story will be stronger and minimize intrinsic bias if it presents multiple perspectives.

If you’re struggling to develop a pitch, you may find it helpful to read examples of pitches we’ve received and the finished products.

If you can answer the questions above, you’re ready to pitch!

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I’ve submitted my pitch. What’s next?

After submitting your pitch, you can expect to receive an email from News Decoder’s editorial team within 1-2 business days. You should politely respond to the editor’s email and then get started on your research and reporting! If you have questions about how to conduct research and reporting, check out our reporting resources.
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