There’s an elite circle of publications in which many journalists are dying to get a byline. They’ve been around for ages. Their name on your resume stamps you with legitimacy. They’re the kind of name you’d mention in your Twitter bio. The Guardian. The New York Times. The Economist. National Geographic. The Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post. The Atlantic. Le Monde. El Pais. VICE. La Nacion. Vogue. The New Yorker. Cosmo. Esquire. Wired. The list goes on.
By all means, sharpen your pencils (or rather, flip open your MacBooks) and put together the best piece to pitch to them. But the truth is that these publications are flooded with submissions, many great ones, on a daily basis. To land a byline not only takes skill, but luck and impeccable timing.
There is one way in which the modern media landscape has been good for journalists (when is the last time you heard that sentence?). There are now multiple digital outlets that pay for high-quality work, and are also very impressive to have in your portfolio. Before you decide it’s BBC or bust, check out some outlets you may not have considered, all which are known to have published great work.
Essays and longform
Narratively: Narratively is quickly gaining a reputation as the gold standard of personal essay publications. Pieces are longform, and normally need to have a sharply original element.
BuzzFeed: BuzzFeed has been pulling away from its origins as lolcats and listicles for years now, but some don’t know it has a thriving community for personal essays.
The Big Roundtable: When The Big Roundtable says it does longform, it means it. 5,000–30,000 words, TBR aims to help people tell nonfiction stories they feel are too important to be kept to themselves. TBR’s layout is minimalist, so your stories need to speak for themselves. Minimum, you’ll get US$100 for your work, but can garner more from reader donations.
The Development Set: Hosted on Medium and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, TDS has a good reputation among champions of social issues.
GOOD: GOOD does what its name suggests. It tackles current issues, global news and modern living with a positive and constructive emphasis.
A welcome break from pessimistic op-eds and an endless stream of bad news, GOOD isn’t quite Upworthy in its approach — it isn’t looking for feel-good puppies (though we all absolutely need those). Instead, it describes itself as, “sets out to discover what it means to pursue a meaningful life — to live well and do good in the 21st century. Each issue offers ideas, inspiration and provocation for those who seek to be more engaged in the world around them.” Accepts pitches for print and digital.
Pacific Standard: Writing for PSmag is not for the faint of heart. It demands a high standard, thorough investigation and through-provoking subjects. Pieces are intelligent, deeply reported and original.
Latterly: Latterly is a digital startup focused on global studies highlighting social issues. Have a story about a current issue in your country nobody is talking about? Latterly may be interested. (Note: at time of writing, not accepting pitches, but keep checking back)
FiveThirtyEight: A publication with a pedigree, FiveThirtyEight accepts stories about politics, sports, science and health, economics and culture. All of its stories are heavy data journalism. If you have a set of numbers you can make sing, FiveThirtyEight is the place to pitch to.
Salon: Salon was one of the first digital media outlets, and has a readership to match. Their pitching addresses include news, politics, entertainment, life, culture, business, innovation and satire. Salon is designed for a popular audience, so most stories will need to have a human hook.
Mic: Mic has branded itself as the go-to outlet for millennial news. It covers almost everything in its different sections (news, policy, science, tech, travel, world, identities, money, music, food, connections, art) but what they all have in common is a young voice, tailored to history’s most publicized generation.
Atlas Obscura: Wondrous, fun, entertaining and original, Atlas Obscura covers the parts of the globe that are lesser known. Recent examples include Leonardo Da Vinci’s grave, a type of tree that goats often climb to munch on, a giant concrete moose and a dancing building in Prague. (Can’t explain it better than that.)
Compass Cultura: Visually stunning, Compass Cultura is as discerning as they come. It accepts hefty pieces — around 3,000 words — but only three a month. You have to visit Compass Cultura’s website to get a true sense of the pieces they publish — ‘travel’ doesn’t do it justice.
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Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via Rachel Andrew.