July 15, 2010

Want to write for Generation Progress? All it takes is an idea and a pitch.

Generation Progress publishes articles by, about, and for young people; it’s our job to print the work of young writers like you. If you have an idea for a story, please send a 200-word pitch to Hannah Finnie at hlfinnie@americanprogress.org. Your pitch should:

  • Introduce your story idea and define your angle. In other words, tell us what you want to write about and explain your point of view and argument.
  • Explain why your idea is timely, unique, important, and/or of interest to Generation Progress readers. The most important thing when developing your idea is to figure out why people reading the article should care about what you’re writing about. Take a step back and ask: “What’s interesting about this? What am I adding to the conversation that’s not already out there?”
  • Estimate a deadline for your piece.
  • Include your phone number and email address.
  • You can also attach clips and/or writing samples to demonstrate your experience.

Because Generation Progress is a non-partisan non-profit, articles or other content should not to advance the interests of any particular political party or candidate for office.

Pitch Examples

Here are three examples of possible pitches—one that’s not so good and two we’d be more likely to accept.

Example of a bad pitch:

Dear Generation Progress,

I am a political science major and a writer for my campus newspaper. I’m interested in writing a story for Generation Progress with an alternative view of the Patriot Act, because I think it’s really important for students to know about and understand. Would you be interested in a piece like this?

Jack P. Student

Example of a good pitch for a reported feature:

Dear Generation Progress,

I would like to write a story for Generation Progress that attempts to explain why there hasn’t been a powerful on-campus student movement against the Iraq war. Although most students seem to agree that it was a mistake for the United States to invade Iraq, a strong, unified student voice calling for the president to bring our troops home hasn’t yet emerged. As a part of my analysis, I would like to compare the student activism of the 1960s to that of today, and argue that although there doesn’t seem to be a unified student voice against the war, students today are expressing their opinions and making a difference on the national scene.

I will talk to 10 college activists from campuses across the country and attend a rally that is scheduled to take place next week at my college. To compare and contrast today’s activism to that of the Vietnam era, I will also interview administrators and anti-war student activists from the 1960s.

It is important for someone from our generation to write this piece. Various political writers, like Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and Courtney Martin of the American Prospect, have recently argued that college activists are ineffective. Generation Progress’s readership will enjoy reading an article written by a college student that counters these opinions.

If my pitch is accepted, I can turn in a draft of the piece by the end of this month.

Thank you,
Joyce Q. Student
(202) 555-1212

Example of a good pitch for an opinion column:

Dear Generation Progress,

I’m often disturbed by the lack of diversity in the contemporary environmental movement. I would like to write an opinion piece for Generation Progress arguing that the perceived whiteness of contemporary environmentalism keeps the movement from reaching the places that need it most: low-income communities, which have disproportionately high levels of minority residents. Because the movement currently places so much emphasis on individual choices made by consumers—like the decision to buy environmentally friendly light bulbs or hybrid cars—environmentalists have distanced themselves from those who can’t afford to make those choices.

It’s no surprise, then, that students of color and low-income students feel helpless and uninspired when it comes to climate change. There aren’t enough high-visibility role models of color in the environmental movement, and campus activism is dominated by white activists. As a student of color who cares about climate change, I can offer personal experience and a unique perspective to the discussion.

If my pitch is accepted, I can submit a draft by the end of next week.

Thank you,
Thomas G. Student
(202) 555-1212

Have a story to tell but looking for someone else to write or pitch it? Share your unique experiences with us here.

Want more info on pitch writing? Or ways to craft an effective message, prep for an interview, and structure and pitch out your op-ed? Head to genprogress.org/we-are-progress to watch our webinar on Earned Media Tactics!

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