Announcing FIRE – a pilot project to support Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors

See below for information about a new project in support of freelance investigative reporters and editors from my friend and first journo-boss Laird Townsend of Project Word. More info HERE.


Dear fellow journalists and supporters,

Project Word is pleased to announce the pilot of a new program, Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors (FIRE).
FIRE will draw on the results of a 2015 national survey to help freelance investigative reporters do their valuable job in the public interest. The survey found that declining pay and other resource constraints were causing a crisis in independent reporting.
Launched with a $200,000 grant from an anonymous donor, FIRE has heeded the recommendations of freelancers themselves to craft a solution to the crisis.
The program is a collaboration between Project Word and Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and will operate with complete editorial independence from its funding sources.
FIRE will serve reporters with two basic services: 1) a Help Desk for referrals, and 2) a Virtual Newsroom.
The Help Desk will provide advice and consultation to a wide array of investigative reporters, including those new to freelancing. The Virtual Newsroom will serve reporters with stipends accompanied by a suite of reporting tools—from research assistance and professional trainings, to editing help and legal review.
For more, visit Services and FAQs. If you are a reporter, please review FIRE’s Guidelines to determine whether you are eligible to submit an online application. The deadline to apply is February 10, 2016.
Beyond helping valuable stories reach the public, FIRE aims to contribute to a national dialogue about the role of independent reporters in a rapidly changing society. We believe that freelancers deserve the best chance to succeed in their work, to the benefit of us all. We are excited to help that happen.
Thank you for making FIRE possible.

Laird Townsend,
Project Director


Aronson Awards for social justice journalism Call For Entries, deadline Feb 15



Dear Colleagues,

We are soliciting submissions for this year's James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism.

The deadline for entries is February 15, 2016 

Since 1990, the Aronson Awards have honored original, written reporting that exposes widespread injustices, underlying causes, and possible reforms. This includes exposing discrimination based on race, class, gender, religion or sexual orientation; economic exploitation; violations of human rights, civil liberties or free expression; environmental degradation; and brutality to civilians in war.

The award recognizes original work published in English in newspapers, magazines, blogs and online publications based in the U.S.

A separate prize, the Grambs Aronson Award for Cartooning with a Conscience, recognizes the achievements of political cartoonists whose work focuses on social issues.

Individual reporters, cartoonists and publications are encouraged to submit your work. 

For more information, submission guidelines and a list of past winners, please go to

The Aronson Awards are administered by the Hunter College Department of Film & Media Studies and a judging committee of journalists and media critics.

For more information please contact Tami Gold at


Tami Gold & Blanca Vazquez, Directors

James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism
Hunter College of the City University of New York
212 772.4953 Office 

radio storytelling competition from, deadline Jan 8 in Portland, OR is offering prizes for the best radio storytelling. Details HERE and below. Deadline Jan 8.

If you hadn't already heard, in Portland OR is hosting a radio storytelling contest. You can win up to $500, get your piece on a handout vinyl record, or win a bunch of other cool prizes. We're looking for two kinds of entries, feature stories (3-7 minutes in length) and billboards (one minute or less).

All of the details and piece requirements can be found here:

And for more incentive, if you feature a nonprofit in your winning piece, the nonprofit will also take home a donation from XRAY! The deadline for pieces is midnight on Friday Jan. 8th, so get cracking!

pitch a documentary for BBC’s World Stories 2016, deadline Feb 29

Amazing opportunity from the BBC. Initial deadline Feb 29. Details HERE and below. 


Do you have an inspiring documentary programme idea? If so, we are offering you the chance to create your own radio programme for a truly global audience.

World Stories is a new documentary series from the BBC World Service that offers programme-makers from around the world the opportunity to produce an innovative piece of radio storytelling that will surprise and inform a global audience. We want to be challenged, surprised and moved by your stories, themes, treatments and ambition.

We will commission four original documentaries from four experienced radio producers from around the world. The subjects chosen and the way you treat them can be challenging in both form and execution and it is worth remembering that 80% of our audience have English as a second language.

The selected documentaries will be allocated a maximum of £6,600 (9,882 USD) to cover all costs incurred by the programme – eg travel, studios, equipment, presenters, contributor fees, rights clearance, hotels, expenses etc. The programmes will need to be delivered in two different durations – 23 minutes and 26 minutes 30 seconds – in line with the usual BBC programme clock, and must adhere to the BBC Guidelines –click here for more details.

We will also look at the best ways to enhance these stories online and digitally either in written, visual or audio form.

Listen to the documentaries below to get a feel for what we are looking for in the next series of World Stories – you can find these at and listen to more documentaries from the World Service at

Step One: Initial proposals should come in the form of a 200 word outline to be received no later than Monday 29 February, 2016. Entries should be emailed to World Stories Commissioning

Listen to a selection of our documentaries

Apply now for a Spring 2016 Israel Story Internship!

Seems like a big ask to go to Israel to work for free, but if you're itching to travel and need to get some work experience while you're there, this might be right for you. Details below. -Mia

Israel Story is a documentary storytelling radio show/podcast, and we’re looking for interns for the English version of our show. Now’s especially exciting time to join— we recently launched our second English season in co-production with Tablet Magazine, and distributed by PRX!

For this position, you could choose to live in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv-Yafo. Either way, you’ll get to explore the country as you help us find and tell the stories of Israel’s most interesting characters.

This position begins in February, and is a 4-5 month commitment, which could lead to a longer-term, paid job. The position is unpaid, but outside funding may be available, for instance via a Masa grant.

Candidates with experience in audio production, production logistics, storytelling, multimedia production, journalism, and/or social media are strongly encouraged to apply.

Please send a cover letter, resume, and links for 2-3 examples of your work to:

About Israel Story:

Israel Story is one of the most popular national radio shows in Israel, and the country’s first storytelling podcast of its kind. Hosted by Mishy Harman, Israel Story shines a light on the big and little dramas that comprise life in Israel, amplifying voices that are rarely heard in the mainstream media. Israel Story recently branched out into English, co-producing its first English season with Tablet Magazine, and now a second season (in English) with Tablet and the public-radio powerhouse PRX. The show has gotten a lot of tremendously positive attention–it was featured in the New York Times, an episode was selected as one of the top 10 best podcast episodes of 2014, and stories from the first season have been heard on NPR stations across the US, including as the Mother’s Day special on WNYC. Our stories have been featured on award-winning nationally syndicated shows like ‘Radiolab,’ ‘Snap Judgment,’ and ‘To the Best of Our Knowledge‘.

Undark Magazine call for (multimedia and other) pitches

Undark Magazine goes live in April 2016 and they want your stories! They're looking for all kinds of stuff: long form, short form, op-ed, and multimedia. Get in early! Details below. -Mia


Editorial Mission

The name Undark arises from a murky, century-old mingling of science and commerce — one that resulted in an industrial and consumer product that was both awe-inspiring and, as scientists would later prove, toxic and deadly. We appropriate the name as a signal to readers that our magazine will explore science and technology not just as "gee-whiz" phenomena, but as frequently wondrous, sometimes contentious, and occasionally troubling byproducts of human culture.

As such, the intersection of science and society — the place where science is articulated in our politics and our economics; or where it is made potent and real in our everyday lives — is a fundamental part of our mission at Undark. As journalists, we recognize that science can often be politically, economically and ethically fraught, even as it captures the imagination and showcases the astonishing scope of human endeavor. Undark will therefore aim to explore science in both light and shadow, and to bring that exploration to a broad, international audience.

Undark is not interested in "science communication" or related euphemisms, but in true journalistic coverage of the sciences. 

Submission Guidelines

Beginning in April, 2016, Undark Magazine will be publishing twelve pieces of long-form, narrative-driven journalism each year, accompanied by a regular and ongoing mix of shorter features, profiles, essays, op-eds, book excerpts, Q&A's, reviews, blog posts, photography, digital video, information graphics and data visualizations.

NOTE: All prospective first-time contributors should include a brief biography and a selection of journalistic work samples, via links or attachments.

Long-form projects

Writers interested in pitching a long-form project should submit a two- to three-page proposal that outlines the narrative thrust and expected length of the piece; highlights key characters and subjects; and clearly articulates how the proposal meets the magazine's mission of shedding light on the often fractious intersection of science and society. Writers are encouraged to detail any travel that might be required as part of the project.

Submit long-form project proposals as a Long-form Project Pitch.

Short-form & other proposals

Writers wishing to submit ideas for shorter features, profiles, essays, Q&A's, and reviews should submit 200 to 300 words describing the proposed piece and how it fits into the magazine's editorial mission.

Submit short-form project proposals as a Short Feature Pitch.


Writers wishing to submit ideas for opinion pieces should submit a brief summary describing the issue of concern, its timeliness, the argument to be made, and a full disclosure of all relevant personal and professional affiliations.

Submit op-ed proposals as an Opinion Pitch.

Book excerpts & reviews

Authors, publishers or agents submitting books for review consideration should send galleys or hard copies to Undark Magazine, c/o Knight Science Journalism @MIT, E19-623, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139. 

Authors, publishers or agents seeking to offer book excerpts for publication at Undarkshould submit a short proposal as a Book Query.

Blog posts

Writers wishing to contribute to Undark's blog, Cross Sections, should send a short query describing the topic and its timeliness.

Submit blog proposals as a Blog Pitch.


Photographers, videographers, filmmakers, graphic designers, data visualization experts, editorial illustrators and other visual journalists wishing to pitch projects, or to make themselves available for work assignments as they arise, can reach out to us at

Please include resumes and links or attachments to previous, relevant work.


Our pay rates vary by project, but we strive to be both fair and competitive.

call for pitches from WHYY’s The Pulse

WHYY's The Pulse wants YOU (your pitches anyway). Details below.
Reporters & Producers,

WHYY's "The Pulse" (stories at the heart of health, science, and innovation) is in future planning mode right now, and we're hungry for pitches. We're open to fresh new ideas or rebroadcast features that are still relevant and haven't yet been run by national news magazines.

Pitch away! Email me:

Joel Patterson, Managing Editor

****If you aren't sure what we're looking for, here are our guiding principles:

Empower people to take control of their health.
We aren’t here to market gadgets or push fad diets. We are in the business of giving people the tools to understand their options and their rights.

Put people first.
Our show humanizes complicated issues by allowing reporters and their subjects to be themselves and speak in their authentic voices.

Answer questions people didn’t even know they had.
One of the best sources for great storytelling is our own experience. If you find yourself wondering “why?” odds are our audience is, too…whether or not they know it.

If the audience can predict the next story…we’re failing.

Celebrate with skepticism.
Science and technology are fertile ground for amazing breakthroughs in our understanding the human condition. We celebrate those moments, but we do so with the caveat that “science is a moving target.”

Take the audience on a journey.
The point of departure is ignorance, the destination is understanding. And, if the choice is between interviewing someone in their office at Pennsylvania Hospital and in a hot-air balloon over the Rio Grande…you know the rest.

Keep it weird.
The fringe is where the action is.

CA Community Stories grant available, deadline February 1

Hey CA folks. California Humanities grants [up to $10K] are now available for Community Stories – intended to capture and share compelling stories from and about California’s diverse communities. Applications will be accepted from January 4 through February 1, 2016.


Guidelines, work samples, and an application webinar video can be found HERE. More info below.



California Humanities will soon begin accepting applications for our February 1, 2016 deadline for Community Stories, our competitive storytelling grants program. The official application period is January 4, 2016 through February 1, 2016; in the meantime, the Community Stories grant guidelines are available for potential applicants to peruse beginning December 1!


In addition, our staff will host grant workshops in anticipation of the February deadline, including an informational webinar for grant applicants on December 16, 2015 at 11 am. Click here to register for this webinar, and be sure to check our website periodically for information regarding future grant workshops!


California Humanities’ Community Stories grants program provides funding to support a wide range of community-initiated public humanities projects, including:

• story-based performances
• community forums
• websites
• video and radio documentaries
• interpretive exhibits

Since 2003, we have made over 450 awards for projects that collectively illustrate the diversity and breadth of the California experience.



• California-based nonprofit and/or fiscally sponsored organizations
• local/state public agencies or institutions


• focus on collecting and sharing real stories of California’s communities
• involve at least one humanities expert as an advisor
• use the methods of analysis that inform the humanities as well as community-based research
• produce work that is publicly accessible


• Grant awards range up to $10,000
• Matching cash or in-kind donations are required

For more information, including current guidelines, application materials and instructions, and descriptions of funded projects, click HERE.


Grants & Programs Associate


California Humanities
538 9th St, Suite 210
Oakland, CA 94607

tel   415.391.1474 x 308
fax   510.808.7533



part time Sound Designer / Engineer position at Reveal (Emeryville CA), deadline NOW

The excellent Reveal is hiring a part time sound designer to work in their Emeryville office. Details from the lead engineer below. And NOTE, they’re already going through resumes so if you want this, giddyup!


The position starts at 25 hrs / week with the likelihood of transitioning to full time later in the year.  Because of this I understand that it might only have appeal to someone looking to be in the bay area anyway, and/or with a stable of freelance work that supports a part-time gig.  But I can say that
1) the compensation should be fair
2) For my right-hand lady or man, I’ll be there to provide a lot of support and mentorship, and that
3) Reveal just rules as a workplace.  Good people all around.


December call for pitches from Upworthy

The latest call for pitches from Upworthy is below. Also, the formatting of my last email got all screwed up – sorry about that. Here's a quick list of what was in that post in case it was impossible to read.

And here's the Upworthy stuff. Happy Friday!

Hi Upworthy freelancers,

Happy holidays, welcome to the month of December, and thank you for all of your great work last month!
It was a good month. We published stories from you about everything from Black Friday, to sharks, to moving companies that help domestic violence victims.

We're also getting more and better pitches from you each week. In fact, this is how your editors are starting to feel as we sort through those pitches:

So far, your work has helped us drive millions of views to stories that matter. Bravo!

As per usual, we'd like to call out some of our most viewed and most shared stories from November 2015:
Cheers to these pieces, which checked all four major boxes: surprising, visual, meaningful, and shareable!

On that note, we have some other big-ish news: we've switched our pitching platform!

Moving forward, we'll be using a Google Form to collect your pitches (instead of email). It would be best if you could submit your pitches using that form from now on. And once you've done that, we'll do our best to get back to you within 7 days, as always. Questions can still be directed to!
On that note, here are the topics we're looking for this month:
1. Holidays: We'll be picking up about 20 extra stories this month for holiday coverage. So if you have any amazing holiday stories, we want to hear them!
2. Climate change: We're running a few climate campaigns this month, so we'd love to hear stories (not topics) related to climate change. These stories should be surprising—something we haven't heard about before — and very visual. (And yes, we have a staff writer in Paris at the moment for the climate talks… so no, please don't pitch us coverage of that event!)
3. Humanity FTW: Are there businesses that make you think "wow, more companies should be like that"? What about people who restore your faith in humanity, even if it's just for a moment? That. We want to read about that.
4. Food: Our readers love food, but writing about food in an inclusive, systemic, Upworthy way can be difficult. Do you have ideas about things we should cover? Something like this, maybe? Or like this? Send them to us, please. Bonus points for fantastic food photos.
[We're also still interested in stories about personal financeprisonsaging, and military life…. we need more coverage in those areas!]
Alright. That's it for today, folks.

Remember: We're always looking for stories not topics. Climate change is a topic. Gun control is a topic. A story, on the other hand, has characters, drama, great photos, surprising details, and a narrative arc. Check out our pitching packet to be reminded of this!
Now, go get 'em.

We look forward to hearing from you this month!
All of the best,
The Upworthy Freelance Team