Just in time for the holidays, the latest call for pitches from TAL. Enjoy! -Mia
Dear This American Life friends and contributors,
It’s been a while! We’ve been sending out these Theme Lists with less frequency lately in the hopes that we don’t exhaust you and your patience with us. But please know that you’re free to pitch us stories whenever you like and you don’t need to wait for a Theme List or appropriate theme. That said, we've got a new round of themes-in-progress listed below! And we'd love your story pitches, thoughts and suggestions for these upcoming shows.
How this process works: When you send in a story idea to me, I'll respond with a generic email letting you know that I received your pitch and that I've read it. I promise. I read every pitch. (I won't send you the auto response until I've read your pitch so expect a bit of a delay getting that email.) If we think the pitch is right for us, or if we need more information from you, I'll send you another email asking for more info on the story or letting you know we'd like to commission the story. But if you don't hear back from us within two weeks, beyond the initial auto-reply email, it means the story just isn't right for us or for the needs of that particular show. The idea of doing it this way is just to get through pitches and get back to everyone quickly.
Like always, these themes are shows we're actively pursuing right now but we're always on the lookout for new stories or ideas. So if you've got a story that you think would work especially well for us but doesn't fit a specific theme listed below, please send it along anyway.
Thanks so much for your pitches. We appreciate it.
This American Life
THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS: This show is coming up soon (three weeks) and while it's holiday-related and timed, the stories for this show don't necessarily have to be about Christmas. But it'd be great if they were! We've got a few stories about gift-giving and we'd love more stories in that direction. Maybe a story about a particularly awful or weird (or wonderful!) gift? Or a gift that truly does speak more to the 'thought' behind the gift than to the actual reality of the gift? We may also just gather up a lot of different stories about notable Secret Santa gift-exchanges so if you've even got a small story for that, please let us know. Other takes on the theme could be stories where the 'thought' or intention of something is unclear or, perhaps, misguided. Or stories where the thought truly was greater than the action — something where the thought had a power of its own.
GOOD GUY: There is this thing called the "good guy discount" where basically while you're at the counter making your purchase, you ask the cashier for the good guy discount. When the cashier inevitably asks, "What's the good guy discount?" you simply say, "You know — you're a good guy, I'm a good guy … a good guy discount." A reporter for our show SWEARS this works more times than you'd think, and he often walks out with 10-20 percent off the price. But how can this work?! WHY does this work? In this show, we're hoping to explore this idea of being a 'good guy' and what that means. We'd like stories about people who have a specific notion of what it means to be a good person and where the lines get drawn between good and not-good. In another story, a soldier talks about his motivations for joining the military and his struggle with what are morally acceptable motives when you're training to kill. For some variety, stories about relationships or love would work well for this show.
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE: These are stories of people in limbo, fighting desperately to get out. We've got one story about a man who's in prison right now because of a bureaucratic mistake. But it's not the kind you normally think of because this guy was guilty. He was convicted of an armed robbery more than a decade ago, he bonded out while appealing, and then his appeals failed. But here's where the remarkable mistake happened – no one ever came back to put him back in prison. So he went on living his life. He had kids, started a business, bought a house. And then when the Department of Corrections was preparing to release him they finally realized, "Oh wait. We don't actually have this guy in custody." So now, even though he's completely reformed and has never committed another crime, he's back in prison. We have another story of women in a strict religious community who turn to some pretty extreme measures when their community says they can't divorce their husbands. We're looking for more stories like this where people find themselves in some kind of limbo they can't control. The stories we have so far are pretty serious, so suggestions or stories that are funny would be helpful. Maybe one of you has a story about being then unwilling mediator in a dumb family fight. Some story about a very common sense piece of legislation or a scientific idea that will never see the light of day because it's stuck between two sides could work too.
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: In the absence of facts, people will often make up their own truth — a story that somehow explains the world in a way that makes sense or feels logical or comforting. We are working on one story for this show about a murder investigation where it seems like the police certainly know more than they're letting on but for whatever reasons, they won't reveal anything. Now the victims' families and friends are trying to figure it out on their own but it's taking them down some weird (and scary) paths. We'd like to explore this idea with more stories about searching for truth and ending up in a place that maybe isn't quite right. Because we have one story about a murder and are working on another story about a political legend, smaller, personal and even light stories might be nice for this theme. Maybe a story about figuring out a family secret? Or a small-scale mystery? A story told from the perspective of someone who *knows* the truth but won't reveal it would be really nice, too.
DAY AT THE BEACH: It's getting cold and soon the holidays will be over and we'll be entering the dreary malaise of the I've-got-nothing-to-live-for months of mid to late winter (is this only me?) so we'd like to do a fun show in February where all of the stories either take place at the beach or, basically, just have something to do with the beach. Stories about family vacations or romances or mysteries or even environmental stories — just as long as at some point in the story, we come across sand and water. We've got one story about an octopus and another about a family reunion but even if your story involves both an octopus and a family, that's fine. We'd just love to be thinking about the beach soon!
THE LOCAL SHOW: A few years ago, a woman in Maine who runs a snowmobiling camp was fighting to keep a massive conservation project out of town, largely because the person overseeing the project is considered an "outsider." Yet when that person's son took over the project, the woman started to see things differently and after some grouse hunting and socializing with him, the woman ends up supporting the same conservation she'd been radically against. All because the son grew up in the same part of Maine and therefore he's a local. The thing is, while the son had been born there, he was also the heir to a huge fortune, had moved away and lived a very big city, non-Maine life and then carefully cultivated a "locals" image to return to Maine in order to sway the opponents. His image makeover wasn't unknown though — people in the town just didn't care. He was born there, he was a local and that's that. The idea of what makes someone a "local" or an interloper or something in between — we'd like more stories about where being a local means something. Maybe a story about being mistaken for belonging? Or a story about trying to fit in but doing a horrible job of it? A story about figuring out someone wasn't a local because of a very small 'tell' – a look, phrase, or gesture that just was obviously out of place?
This American Life
Call for pitches from Latino USA. And hey – Happy Thanksgiving!
Latino USA is wrapping up the year with a program about being indigenous, both literally and metaphorically.
We’d welcome your story ideas.
One example of a story we have in the pipeline is about a community of Guatemalan Mayans in Omaha who don’t speak much Spanish, let alone English. The city is reaching out by cultivating trilingual interpreters.
Some possible story threads are:
- Exploring the idea of being indigenous to somewhere. What makes people feel like they belong to a place?
- Points of intersection between indigenous people and newcomers. What is that relationship like?
- Stories about people who were here before their area became part of the US – for example, Native and Latino communities in the Southwest.
Please send your pitches not to me, but to: email@example.com, before December 6.
Hey Bay Area radio fans - Ben Manilla will be talking to Neal Conan at the UCB j-school on Dec 5. Don't miss it!
NEAL CONAN | NPR in the 21st Century
When: Thursday, December 5, 6:00 p.m.
Where: North Gate Hall Room 105
Please join Neal Conan in conversation with UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism professor, Ben Manilla.
Over more than thirty five years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan served as a reporter, editor, producer, news executive and, for eleven and a half years, as host of "Talk of the Nation." His positions included stints as Bureau Chief in New York and London; he was, at various times, editor, producer and Executive Producer of "All Things Considered," and, in a temporary capacity, Foreign Editor, Managing Editor, and News Director.
His work has been recognized with Peabody, Armstrong and DuPont-Columbia Awards, among others, for coverage of the Iran-Iraq War and the conflict in Northern Ireland and as part of the teams responsible for live coverage of 9/11, and the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He anchored NPR's live coverage of major party political conventions, confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominees, and a presidential impeachment.
On a leave of absence in 2000, he worked as the play-by-play announcer of the Aberdeen Arsenal, a team in the independent Atlantic League and wrote a book about his experiences: "Play by Play: Baseball, Radio and Life in the Last Chance League."
Please join Neal and Ben in a lively discussion about the past, present and future of public radio followed by an audience Q and A.
RSVP for the event here.
DAVID HOFFMAN | Citizens Rising: Independent Journalism and the Spread of Democracy
When: Monday, December 9, 5:00 p.m.
Where: North Gate Hall Library
From the fall of the Soviet Union to the Arab Spring to today’s continuing conflicts, media have played a decisive role in political affairs across the globe—driving the revolutionary changes shaping today’s new world. This is the first book presenting a comprehensive look at the emergence of media as a primary actor, and not merely an observer, of global affairs.
As founder of Internews, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to information access and independent media, David Hoffman has had a backstage pass to many of the seminal world political upheavals in recent years. In these pages we see how media have been used for good and bad—to trigger genocide, but also to effectively prevent conflict, facilitate free elections, expose corruption, promote nation-building, provide critical information amid natural disasters, and bring about massive social change such as free education and women’s rights. With the rise of digital technology, the power of media to intervene in global affairs is in the hands of everyone—including you. This book examines media’s historic impact and offers a roadmap to the future.
David Hoffman is the Emmy Award-winning Founder and President Emeritus of Internews, a global nonprofit that has pioneered media development. Internews has worked in more than 90 countries to train media professionals and citizen journalists, increase coverage of vital issues, and advance policies for open access to information.
RSVP for the event here.
For those planning to attend the SF Obamacare event on November 14:
The Affordable Care Act and you: A discussion specifically for self-employed folk, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14
at the San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin St. We'll meet in the Hispanic/Latino Room A in the lower level.
Ken Jacobs from the UC Berkeley Labor Center and a Kaiser Foundation rep will be on hand to outline the options, offer guidance, answer what is bound to be a myriad questions. All are welcome; pass the word!
Paid internships at Marketplace. It's not much, but it's something! Links below.
Latino USA is working on the following show themes over the next couple of months and we’d welcome your story ideas.
Please send all pitches to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAGES: A literal and figurative look at cages – from being pulled over or sent to jail, to being trapped in a creative rut or a certain mindset. How does one break out of the cage?
GRATITUDE: This show will run at Thanksgiving. We’re looking for pieces that aren’t necessarily food-related, but focus on giving and nurturing.
SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: Pieces that focus on access to abortion, especially in rural areas; sex ed; birth control; and young adult/teen pregnancy.
MONEY: How to celebrate the holidays while the economy is still weak? Lighthearted pieces about money in general are also welcome.
HOLIDAY/EVERGREEN STORIES: That includes music pieces.
NEIGHBORS: How do people from different cultures interact? Think about creative, original takes on that question, and also what it means to be a neighbor or live in a neighborhood.
Again, the best address to pitch is: email@example.com.
We look forward to hearing from you!
FYI – New Date for the Bay Area how-to on the Affordable Care act.
Due to circumstances beyond our control, our clinic on the Affordable Care Act for freelancers has been moved to Thursday, Nov. 14 at the San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin Street in San Francisco.
Ken Jacobs of the UC Berkeley Labor Center will outline the options for the independently employed, answer our many questions and walk us through the enrollment process will be. A representative of the Kaiser Foundation will also be on hand.
All self-employed and contract workers are welcome.
The clinic is a joint project of the Pacific Media Workers Guild freelance unit and the Translators and Interpreters Guild. Please spread the word!
The truly fabulous Pop-Up Magazine
is hiring a full time senior editor/producer (with health benefits!). Details below.
As the lead day-to-day editor and producer of Pop-Up Magazine, you will be responsible for imagining and organizing live magazine performances and events. You will report to Editor-in-Chief Douglas McGray, who will have a new, expanded role.
This is not an event manager position, though you should feel comfortable throwing big, fun parties. We're looking for someone who is excited to produce performances of reported, true stories in writing, radio, documentary film, photography, and illustration, and thinks we have only just scratched the surface of all we might do and all the ways we might bring people together. You should be inspired by a close relationship with your audience, and the opportunity to give them memorable experiences.
You can be based in the San Francisco Bay Area or Los Angeles. We will consider candidates from anywhere, but if you don't live in California right now, you should be prepared to show a deep familiarity with writers, radio producers, documentary filmmakers, photographers, and illustrators in California and the West.
We work in a lot of different media. You won't be a pro at all of them. But you should be a pro at one of them, at least, with a track record of work for national outlets, and have good instincts for mixing media together. Radio experience is especially useful.
To apply, send a resume, cover letter, and response to the following to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Critique Pop-Up Magazine. What specific stories or elements have made the strongest impression on you, and why, and how might we improve? OR if you haven't seen a Pop-Up Magazine issue, critique, specifically, the live events that have made the strongest impression on you, good or bad.
The position is full-time, with health benefits.
Attention CA filmmakers! This is for you.
Do you have a documentary about California you would like to submit for broadcast? It is that time of year again where we at KQED open up our Call for Entries. We want your stories!
The Emmy-award winning TV series Truly CA: Our State, Our Stories is committed to finding diverse voices and viewpoints. We believe in the power of independent film to educate, entertain and enlighten audiences. But we can’t do this without your help. To be considered for season 10, your application must be received by December 31, 2013. There are no submission fees!
Our taste is eclectic: we seek films that cover a broad range of topics and filmmaking styles, from political or social issues to more personal or experimental works. Particular topics of interest include: education, the environment, immigration, the criminal justice system, history, healthcare and governance-issues explored through the lives of ordinary and extraordinary Californians. In terms of style and format, we consider narrated and non-narrated films, first-person or point-of-view projects, cinema verité work and news documentaries. We look for well-crafted stories featuring compelling characters – stories that are provocative, passionate and unforgettable. Not only do we want well-told stories, we're interested in well-made films, works that are both thought-provoking and eye-opening.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Please find our submission form here.
QUESTIONS? Email the Truly CA team at nmccartin@KQED.org