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|Eater||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor), From a pitch call on twitter or other public forum||Pitch for Shopping: Hasty Bake Grills||600 words||Reported||Hi!|
I'm a Seattle-based food and travel writer (and I follow you on Twitter and had tucked away a pitch call from you a while back). I've written for Eater Seattle, National, and Travel in the past, as well as for the New York Times, Saveur, and Food & Wine.
Hasty Bake Grills
Yes, the name sounds like it might be the rival of an EZ Bake Oven, but in fact the innovative grill is basically the height of outdoor cooking nerdery. It lets you smoke, grill, or even bake all in the same machine (and switch back and forth between them quickly, if you want), because of its design with a separate drawer for the fire.
I was recently visiting (and, I'll be honest, falling in love with) Tulsa, Oklahoma and learned about this amazing grill that's still made right in the heart of Tulsa and an incredible barbecue restaurant in town that uses them on a restaurant scale. Like, the best barbecue I've ever had.
In Oklahoma, where barbecue is big business, this little brand has kept on making grills (since 1948) in part because of a committed fan base, and also because it just makes better meat--including for Burn Co. BBQ, the local restaurant that forgoes a commercial smoker set up in favor of a dozen Hasty Bakes arranged in a t-shape and named after a theme (this week it was Jake Gyllenhaal movies).
I'm thinking this could be a "Buy This Thing" based around the Burn Co. guys' obsession, but if you had room for something a little longer, I'd love the chance to expand on the history of the American-made, Tulsa hometown favorite. (I've even got quotes from a one-time rival grill maker about quitting the business because everything was made in China.)
Let me know what you think!
|Web, Stayed as pitched||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.eater.com/2019/6/18/18677534/hasty-bake-tulsa-grill-bbq||Editor called this "such a thoughtful pitch"|
|New York Times||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Pitch from a writer: What Happens When Daycare Goes Plant-Based?||1500 words||Reported||Hi Choire,|
I'm a Seattle-based food writer (Saveur, Food & Wine, Wine Enthusiast), and I've got a piece that to me leans a little more Styles than straight food piece, if you're interested.
What Happens When Daycare Chooses Beets Over Meats?
Birthdays celebrations at Our Beginning, a daycare facility in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood, are no longer celebrated with ice cream. Instead, the school's kitchen makes dairy-free fruit-based sorbets. Cheese has disappeared from snack time and their chili would upset Texans--it's chock full of beans. It sounds like something from the Los Feliz Daycare Twitter account, but last fall the school announced it would now serve almost entirely plant-based diet to the children ages six weeks to five years old. (Milk is the exception that prevents it from being wholly vegan.)
Parents were--and still are--aghast. Though plant-based diets are the center of the Venn diagram of interests of Fremont's more established hippie-ish art scene and its newer role as tech company hub (Google's Seattle office is blocks away from the daycare), few of the parents were thrilled to see it foisted upon their children. When dealing with an already picky-eating population, many felt as though this was an unnecessary and ill-informed decision. Science seems to disagree.
In this piece, I'd explore how the daycare came to the decision to go plant-based, what the reaction of the parents was, and where this fits with the current scientific research on the health of plant-based diets for small children. I envision this more as an 1000-word reported exploration of the current issues facing us--as parents, as eaters, and as citizens of a warming world--than as a straight condemnation or approval of the decision.
A few samples of writing I've done on similar topics or in similar styles:
Is Your Toddler Too Picky? (The Kitchn)
Could Falcons Prevent The Next e.Coli Outbreak (New Food Economy)
Why Bangladeshi Immigrants Are Cooking with Massage Oil (Taste)
|Print, Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/style/vegan-daycare-children.html|
|Edible Manhattan||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor), From a pitch call on twitter or other public forum||Freelance pitch for Edible Manhattan: Under the Streets of Soho, a Manhattan Brewery Rises||600 words||Reported||Alicia Kennedy,|
My name is Nickolaus Hines. I’m a food, drinks, and travel writer who has written for publications like Liquor.com, Men’s Health, and Atlas Obscura, and I’m reaching out about a story I feel might be a good fit for Edible Manhattan.
Pitch: Under the Streets of Soho, a Manhattan Brewery Rises
New York City’s beer epicenters are, and always have been, Brooklyn and Queens. Working in the space underneath the streets and sidewalks of Soho, however, a new brewery called Torch & Crown is looking to draw craft beer drinkers’ attention to Manhattan.
Craft beer is a $5 billion industry in New York. Manhattan has largely been left out of that calculation. The island had no breweries from 1965 to 1987. Other than a couple brewpubs, Manhattan has lacked serious craft beer since the last Soho brewery, Manhattan Brewing Company, closed in 1995 and its brewmaster, Garrett Oliver, went to Brooklyn Brewing Company. There are plenty of reasons why this is the case. Torch & Crown has faced roadblocks when it comes to cost, regulations, and space, but it’s looking to open soon. When it does, small tanks hooked directly to the taplines will be in the street level taproom, while larger brewing equipment will be in a room underneath the sidewalk and street.
I’d like to write a story on how craft brewing is coming back to Manhattan. The piece will cover the complications, Manhattan’s brewing history, and what the borough’s first major craft brewery in decades means for other people looking to open a brewery on the island. I’m in contact with Torch & Crown and have seen the space and work in progress. Other sources will include Manhattan brewpubs like Death Ave and Heartland, as well as real estate and beer experts. I can provide photos, and I see the piece running around 1,000 words.
Qualifications: Other stories I’ve written of this length and subject matter include a story on wild ferment beers for the beer publication October, a story on blind tasting beer for the industry publication SevenFifty Daily, and a story on the intersection of cannabis and beer for Hop Culture. More of my work can be found on my website.
|Web, Changed a little from pitch||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.ediblemanhattan.com/drink/under-the-streets-of-soho-a-manhattan-brewery-rises/||Was a little too ambitious on scope for my first pitch to an editor and publication I hadn't worked for before. Story ended up being accepted but brought down in length and context.|
|SevenFifty Daily||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||Pitch: What sustainability means in beer and how it can help your bar||600 words||Reported||Over the past decade, an increasing number of brewers have been working to become more sustainable business owners with a lower environmental impact. They’re not alone in the alcohol industry: sustainable wines are regularly promoted as such, and cocktail bars promote steps they’ve taken to reduce waste. Yet there’s no beer equivalent to the natural/biodynamic wine bar or a Trash Tiki for beer.|
In this story, I would cover how brewers are pushing for sustainability. There are a number of ways, including breweries that focus on water and energy conservation, waste management, and local sourcing. I would also include a bit about how bars can highlight sustainability in the beers they choose to serve, and how doing so can help attract people to their business. Sources I’d like to include are All Bar One (a sustainable beer bar in England), the Iowa Green Brewery Certification from University of Northern Iowa, New Belgium and Sierra Nevada (longtime leaders in sustainable brewing), beer bar owners in the U.S., and cicerones.
While this story has an inherent educational service angle for bar owners and people in the industry, there’s also a wider audience of people who are interested in sustainability. There are a few small publications that have written about sustainable breweries, but they tend to focus solely on the breweries and not on how beer sustainability impacts (or can impact) bars and restaurants with beer menus. I see this story being around 1,000 words, and I can source photos.
Thank you for your consideration,
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://daily.sevenfifty.com/how-beer-brewers-are-embracing-sustainability/|
|Bon Appetit||To an editor/publication you had other connection to||Travel Classics follow-up: The Most Common – And Strangest – Foods Seized By US Customs||1500 words||Reported||Hello <Editor>,|
Amanda here, the vegetarian Seattleite from Travel Classics. I hope summer is treating you right!
I’ve been exploring the idea we discussed – the foods most commonly confiscated at our borders. Good news: not much has been written about this recently and I managed to requisition raw data files, rather than a press-released report. So we have a potential scoop! (I know, I know, we’re not taking down Nixon or anything. Still, it’s kinda cool...)
NO ENTRY: The Most Common – And Strangest – Foods Seized By US Customs
Homeward bound? Check your bags for stray apples, citrus and pork products, some of the most confiscated foods, along with beef and gourds.* But don’t sweat the Matsutake mushroom: the “truffles of Japan” tend to receive a warm welcome, as do most fish!
This investigative piece digs deep into the last three years of customs data, showing what foods are most likely to get travelers “red-lined” or even fined when entering the U.S. It also touches upon the countries with the highest seizure rates (we’re looking at you, India, China and Peru!).
To keep the mood light, the article will explore some of the more unusual confiscations, from the Kinder Egg smuggling ring to no-nos like antelope and other bush meat. Not to mention:
Acorns (“fresh w/snail”)
Bird blood and nests
Grasscutter (giant cane rat)
Raw iguana, 40lbs
Sliced deer horn
Vicuna (wild camelid) patties
$13,000 worth of meth inside a wheel of cheese
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has invited me behind the scenes for a firsthand view of confiscated goodies. So I’ll interview officers, as well as travelers stripped of tasty souvenirs for the story.
This concept could easily flex from an info-graphic to a round up or a trend piece anchored with some first-person narrative, as needed.
Lowell-Thomas winner Amanda Castleman has contributed articles and photography to Outside, Hemispheres, Cooking Light, Acura Style, Visa Black Card, The New York Daily News and The International Herald Tribune, plus the UK's BBC, Guardian and Mail on Sunday. A stringer for MSN and Yahoo, she's also worked on 30-odd books, including titles for National Geographic, Frommer's and Rough Guides.
Now Seattle-based, Amanda's lived in Oxford, Rome, Athens, Cyprus and Turkey. As a paper-trained journalist, she’s comfortable with quick turnaround times, schedule permitting.
Her portfolio is online at http://www.amandacastleman.com.
Some samples of especial interest:
Cooking Light: Seattle In 2,000 Calories
MSN: Spiciest Spots Around The World
Visit Seattle: Dinner And A Show (p23-25, Safari works best on Macs)
Many thanks for your consideration!
*If we move ahead, I’ll crunch out firm numbers. The data is just hella-messy right now – lots of different labels and spellings – so I’d rather lock down an assignment before fully plunging in!
Note: I didn't have a strong "why me" component (aside from traveling a lot) for the Bon Appetit pitch. So I leaned hard on the "original reporting" aspect and tailored my writing samples to the market as closely as I could.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.bonappetit.com/entertaining-style/trends-news/article/customs-food||The data wound up being inconsistently labeled and a total nightmare to parse, especially at web rates. The editor eventually assigned an intern or assistant to comb through close to 6,000 entries, cataloging them by type. It took a day and a half, and yielded 12 words.|
|BBC Travel (spin-off story in Sierra Magazine)||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||Time-sensitive pitch: The Most Silent Night (camping in America's quietest place)||1500 Words||Narrative||Hey Jim,|
Thanks for the paperwork, which I’m still chewing through. In the meantime, I had an unusual holiday-themed story I wanted to run past you.
THE MOST SILENT NIGHT
A hiker camps in America’s quietest place: a sound sanctuary among the ancient cedars and moss-shrouded spruces of Olympic National Park in Washington State. The One Square Inch of Silence – created by Emmy-winning acoustic-ecologist Gordon Hempton – protects the natural soundscape in the western hemisphere’s best and largest swathe of virgin temperate rainforest.
Why now: amid the bustle and increasing commercialism of the holiday season, this story would remind people to reconnect with nature’s serenity, even in colder climates. Also, the Square Inch turns 20 in 2015.
Timing-wise, I’d want to head out there on Sunday, because of weather conditions (and also to have enough writing and editing time). I would be able to supply photos along with the text.
Please let me know if this has any appeal and I’ll air out my camping gear!
|Web, Changed a little from pitch||None, accepted from original or follow-up||http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20150110-the-quietest-place-in-the-us||A lot had been written about the Most Silent Square Inch, but never a camping story, let alone a winter one. The idea felt so right, but I was kind of dreading the research (I hate the cold). So OF COURSE it was accepted in 12 minutes, a speed record for me at the time.|
BBC Travel had a full slate, so it bumped the piece to January and we stripped out the "escape the holiday bustle" angle. I wound up selling the original take to Sierra for its Nov/Dec 2016 print issue. It used my "Most Silent Night" title.
|Hidden Compass||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor), From a pitch call on twitter or other public forum||Time Travel pitch: Survival lessons from humanity's most ancient bloodline (Botswanan Bushmen)||>2000 words||Narrative||Dear Sivani Babu,|
Please consider a Time Travel essay on the first safari camp owned by the Botswanan Bushmen, the direct descendants of humanity's most ancient bloodline, which may flow in all our veins.
For 100,000 years, these hunter-gatherers have inhabited one of the world's driest, harshest environments: the Kalahari Desert. They thrived thanks to their intimate knowledge of the landscape... until Botswana's government forcibly settled them into villages and later banned hunting entirely.
Bushman Plains has returned the Bukakwe tribe to their ancestral lands along the Okavango Delta (the 1,000th World Heritage Site). Here mankind's ultimate survivalists apply their exceptional tracking skills to off-road game drives in a barely touristed private concession area. They also share their culture through art, music, dancing, bush walks, expeditions in mokoros (pole-driven canoes) and antelope cooked over a fire in the bush. This also helps keep their heritage alive, as the guides belong to the last generations allowed to live free, hunting and foraging.
Photographer Paul Joseph Brown and I were the first—and still only—media to visit this pioneering camp, which opened in 2017.
See my images and Brown's.
A Lowell Thomas-winning travel writer, my work appears in outlets like Afar, Outside, Islands, Delta Sky, Robb Report, BBC Travel, Bon Appétit, Coastal Living, Sport Diver and The International Herald Tribune. I've also worked on 30-odd books, including titles for National Geographic, Frommer's and Rough Guides. My portfolio is online at amandacastleman.com. Some samples of especial interest may be:
Robb Report — King Fisher
BBC – Eyeball to eyeball with Canada’s migrating salmon
Road and Travel – Calm As The Hurricane’s Eye (Lowell Thomas award, adventure)
Many thanks for your consideration.
|Web, Stayed as pitched, Award-winner||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://hiddencompass.net/2019/05/bushmen-love-time-abundance/||Hidden Compass always works through three rounds of edits, supporting the author's voice and vision. This respectful process helped me win the grand silver prize in Travelers' Tales' 14th Solas Awards for Best Travel Writing. In fact, the mag almost swept the top tier with Erin Byrne scoring the gold and Chase Nelson in a tie for bronze. (https://tinyurl.com/solas-awards-2019)|
The magazine is expanding and relishes working with fresh voices!
|CityLab||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Pitch -- why is L.A. trying to make cool pavements happen?||1500 words||Reported||Dear CityLab editors,|
I’m a journalist based in New York who’s written about shade in Los Angeles, and I'm pitching a piece with news about the city’s groundbreaking efforts to cope with climate change. Officials are hoping “cool pavements” will save its hottest neighborhoods, but new data shows they are making things worse. The publication of that data would be a CityLab scoop.
About eight years ago, Los Angeles committed $500,000 to a plan to reduce the urban heat island effect. It’s built around an effort to coat hundreds of miles of asphalt roads in a gray, paint-like material that reflects heat from sunlight rather than stores it. Cool pavements, city officials say, can help lower temperatures by three degrees citywide and save lives. The project has attracted considerable media attention, including coverage in CityLab.
But climate scientists are underwhelmed. Last week, a team hired by the city submitted the first in-depth temperature assessments of cool pavements. They found the coating makes streets feel hotter, because the glare intensifies thermal radiation. And at night, air temperatures drop by only a fraction of a degree. One would think these results would cause city officials to reconsider their plan. But they are likely to push forward with cool pavements, and my story would explain why.
The story would use the news of the disappointing data to report on the political realities of adapting cities for a warming world. Before the data is published in a leading climate science journal late this month or in early October, I would speak with L.A. city officials who would explain their commitment to cool pavements. The project is bureaucratically expedient, and it’s supported by energy efficiency funds from the state.
I would also offer readers climate scientists’ latest ideas to cool down Los Angeles. In November, an interdisciplinary group of meteorologists, epidemiologists and urban planners will release long-awaited “cooling prescriptions” for different neighborhoods. In every instance, they found, trees have the greatest cooling effects. But they know shade is a greater challenge than a fresh coat of paint. Members of the panel will explain how their prescriptions reflect that knowledge.
Over the coming months, city officials will hire more scientists to continue measuring cool pavements, and will experiment with new mixtures and materials. My story would go beyond the novelty of the technology to show how cool pavements reveal a desire in 20th century cities to redesign for climate change, without undoing the infrastructure that caused the problem in the first place. In the case of Los Angeles, that would be its signature auto-centric design.
I'm thinking the story would be between 1,600 to 2,000 words. I may also be able to help assemble a graphic using data from the new reports. Besides my shade article for Places Journal, I’ve also written for The New York Times, L.A. Weekly, and Artnet, and I’m happy to send you links to more articles and my resume. My writing is also at The New Food Economy, where I'm a staff writer.
Please let me know if you're interested. I’m looking forward to writing this for you.
|Web||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.citylab.com/environment/2019/10/cool-pavement-materials-coating-urban-heat-island-research/599221/|
|FiveThirtyEight||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||How Ebola Led to a New World of Disease Modeling||1500 words||Reported||Dear <Editor>|
I’m a freelance reporter and fact checker based in New Orleans, (I’ll attach some clips below) and was most recently an editorial fellow at Outside Magazine. I’ve got a story on the data side of novel coronavirus that I’d like to write for FiveThirtyEight.
In brief: Much of what is being reported about coronavirus—estimates of undiagnosed cases, rates of transmission—is the result of really powerful and relatively new modeling techniques, that are themselves possible because of a sea change in the culture of epidemiology following the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Thanks very much for your time, and here goes:
How Ebola Led to a New World of Disease Modeling
Back in 2018, a video started buzzing among genetic statisticians. On the left side of screen, black "missiles” fanned out across a map of West Africa, while on the right, a bushy genetic tree unfurled. (I was working on an undergraduate thesis in statistical modeling at the time, and my advisor sent it to me.) Researchers had constructed the genetic lineage of the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak, and in doing so, mapped the transmission of the virus down to the day. They knew which clusters were connected, and had uncovered some characteristics of the disease that, if they had been known at the time, might have slowed its spread.
This type of modeling, called phylogenetic analysis, has been central to understanding the spread of novel coronavirus. In extreme brief, the idea goes that just as scientists can compare DNA to estimate how closely related different animal species are to one another, they can estimate the relationship between different cases of the virus using RNA, allowing them to build a “family tree” of infections. (It also lets a lay audience intuitively see the results of some very challenging number-crunching.) The technique gave us the early estimates of the size of the Seattle outbreak, as well as many of the estimates of its infection and evolution rates. On Friday, researchers in Scotland published an early report on the phylogeny of the virus. This kind of widespread use of phylogenetic analysis in real time during a major outbreak is unprecedented.
These advances have taken place in large part because of lessons learned from Ebola, Gytis Dudas, who authored the Ebola video and study, told me. During that outbreak, researchers had access to rapid sequencing technology for the first time, allowing them to map the virus’ genome in real time. Still, according to Verity Hill, who authored the above coronavirus report, attitudes towards data sharing delayed the release of genetic information, slowing the response. But in the following years, the culture has undergone a 180 degree transformation. Now, she says, there’s “a certain level of useful stigma against [researchers] who don’t share data.” That, coupled with open-data platforms developed in the wake of the Ebola epidemic, have allowed researchers to see a much more complete picture of the disease.
There have been a few stories floating around that have sketched out this type of genetic investigation, largely with regards to the Seattle outbreak. What I haven’t seen is a discussion of how the use of genetic modeling appears to be wholly different in this outbreak. We are no longer flying blind when we can’t test every patient (although that’s still obviously a very bad thing). As Dudas told me, even though researchers haven’t seen a single RNA sequence out of Iran, they know what the Iranian strain’s genome looks like, because they know where it sits in the family tree.
I’m imagining this at ~1,200 words, highlighting how transformative this new data and modeling landscape has actually been, and tracing it back to lessons learned from the last pandemic scare. It would also be great to be able to use or somehow build on the data visualizations that are being produced in the process of this research.
Some of my previous reporting:
And just a heads up that since this is a time-sensitive story, I’m pitching it a few other places at the same time. Thanks!
|Web, Changed significantly from pitch||1-2 emails from editor||https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/genetic-tracking-helped-us-fight-ebola-why-cant-it-halt-covid-19/||Edits went fairly slowly (a few weeks), so the angle pivoted almost 180 from start to finish as the scientific landscape changed. We ended up cutting most of my early reporting.|
|Deutsche Welle||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||900 words||Reported|
Just this week, Mexico has moved into phase two of their coronavirus response. Schools across the country are no longer operating, and in Mexico City, mayor Claudia Sheinbaum has ordered all bars, theaters, museums and churches closed. But Mexican workers face a dilemma unlike any other country where coronavirus has begun to spread wildly: 60% of the population works in the informal economy, and 40% of the population is under the poverty line. In Mexico City alone, where public health officials anticipate coronavirus to spread most quickly, approximately two million people work as street vendors--and most of them have no intention to stop working.
The predominance of the informal street economy has been a key factor in the government's response, as officials have acknowledged that Mexico confronts a unique challenge in confronting the virus. The outlook in Mexico may become a blueprint for how the virus will unfold in other countries with high levels of poverty and participation in the informal economy.
For this story, I'm planning to interview street vendors who are continuing to work as the rest of the city shuts down around them; I'm also planning on speaking with a few unions and interest groups of street vendors in Mexico City.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-in-mexico-street-vendors-agonize-over-health-or-livelihood/a-52982543|
|Zora||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||>2000 words||Profile|
Marisol Mendoza Gomez, the founder of the all-female DJ collective Musas Sonideras, knows about 60 other female sonidero DJs in all of Mexico. She knows about 60 male sonideros just in her Mexico City neighborhood of Tacuba.
Sonidero refers to both a style of music--generally a mixture of cumbia, salsa and other Latin rhythms, mixed live by DJs over mobile soundsystems--and to the cumbia block parties where the music is played. On any Saturday afternoon, you'll find streets throughout Mexico City's working-class neighborhoods roped off with sonideros mixing over enormous speakers, as neighbors dance and sip micheladas. Mendoza's father is a sonidero MC, and she grew up with his looming speakers and subwoofers stored next to the dresser at home, under a cloth crocheted by her mother.
Growing up, Mendoza never saw women emphasized in the sonidero scene. The few sonideras received little to no publicity; flyers for sonideros usually included a sexy photo of a woman, but rarely, if ever, were women themselves behind the sound system. Three years ago, Mendoza, along with several other women in Mexico City, started the collective Musas Sonideras, which brings together female sonideras at all stages of their careers. Their 30 members include women across Mexico and in San Diego and Chicago.
Each Musa, as they call themselves, has struggled to make it in the famously machista sonidero scene. Mendoza recounts hearing women in the bathrooms at parties say, “oh, the women are going to play now, let’s get out of here." But as the collective has gained traction, they've played everywhere from block parties to museums to queer bars to the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. They've also recently appeared in the documentary Yo No Soy Guapo, which has appeared in film festivals across Mexico.
I want to write a profile of Mendoza and the Musas Sonideras project. Aside from Mendoza being a really interesting character, I see this as a portrait of the really unique sonidero subculture, which the city government has attempted to quash in recent years. Sonidero music is associated with working-class neighborhoods and street culture, and the government has increasingly criminalized it, making it difficult to get a permit for sonidos and shutting them down in some of the city's most marginalized neighborhoods.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://zora.medium.com/meet-the-women-smashing-mexicos-male-dominated-dj-scene-aac0eb765cad|
|Columbia Journalism Review||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||1500 words||Reported|
Two of the four journalists murdered in Mexico this year have come not from mainstream newspapers or broadcasters, but from one of the most humble, hyperlocal institutions of the Mexican media landscape: the community radio station. Samir Flores and Rafael Murúa, from the states of Morelos and Baja California, respectively, both worked at grassroots radios comunitarias. Murúa’s murder followed death threats after he criticized a local politician, while Flores’s may have been linked to his activism against a gas pipeline and thermoelectric project in the region.
In Mexico, community radios are particularly common in rural and indigenous communities without resources to create and distribute other forms of media. It's an accessible way to create and consume local media. They often work off of little to no financing, and they're known for taking strong political stances on local issues. Many community radios are known for bringing attention to encroaching land-grabs and corporate megaprojects in their regions. Community radios also usually exist in a legal limbo. obtaining a concession to broadcast can be prohibitively bureaucratic and expensive, and they often do without.
I want to write a piece on the risks that journalists at community radios in Mexico face, as grassroots operations taking on powerful interests in rural and indigenous communities. I’m planning to visit the journalists at Samir Flores’s radio station, Radio Comunitario Amiltzinko, and to interview journalists at community radios around Mexico about the risks involved with this particular form of journalism.
|Web, Changed a little from pitch||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.cjr.org/analysis/mexico-radio-news-media.php|
|Eater||To an editor/publication you had other connection to||>2000 words||Reported|
My favorite thing about my neighborhood in Mexico City is my local market. It’s a block and a half from my house; the guys at my favorite produce stand always slip me a mango or a few oranges with the rest of my purchase, I can get enchiladas or fresh-squeezed juice along with my groceries and the man who sells me milk and cheese always notices when I’ve been out of town. Like most of the city's neighborhood markets, when I moved into the neighborhood, its façade was painted with a brightly colored geometric pattern. One day late last year, though, my roommate came home from a grocery run bemoaning the market’s new renovations. “They’re hipsterifying our market,” she bemoaned, “and they’re going to gentrify our neighborhood.” She was referring to the facade being torn down and replaced by faux exposed brick, a makeover that had been applied to a nearby public market in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. That market, Mercado Tlacoquemecatl, now looks more like the food halls that pepper tourist-friendly neighborhoods like Juarez, Condesa and Roma: pristinely organized, each stall neatly lettered with its offerings, with third-wave coffee stands among the tacos and dry goods.
The last 25 years haven’t been easy for Mexico City’s public markets: many of them haven’t seen renovations since the city first inaugurated them in the 60s, and it shows in the sagging ceilings, faded paint and occasional scurrying creature. The boom in supermarkets, particularly the Walmart-owned Superama and Bodega Aurrera, has also eaten into the niche public markets previously occupied. But nearly every colonia in the city has one, and they’re neighborhood touchstones. The city has poured funds into the remodeling of its markets in fits and starts in the last five years, and 41 of its 329 public markets have received funds from its Development and Improvement Plan. As tourism in the city booms, establishments that cater to working- and middle-class locals are increasingly replaced by ritzier locales. Reinventing themselves as food halls--also now ubiquitous in Mexico City's more touristy zones--is a survival strategy.
I want to write about how gentrification is affecting the viability of the public markets. In particular, I'll examine what the changing relationship of Mexico City’s public markets and neighborhoods says about the changing city fabric, including the booming tourist economy. Larger markets, like Jamaica and Merced, are popular tourist attractions: their sheer scale, covering several city blocks, is a spectacle in itself, the crush of smells, sounds and colors a draw for visitors hungry for “authentic” Mexico. But in neighborhoods that increasingly draw AirBnb-ers looking for an instagrammable meal destination, the market model, integrating produce, dry goods and unglamorous workday lunch options, is losing its viability. I plan to talk to market vendors, people from Mexico City's Secretary of Development, in charge of the markets' remodeling, and developers of new food halls in the city.
|Web, Changed significantly from pitch||Phone call required (with or without additional emails)||https://www.eater.com/2019/12/9/20963654/mexico-city-public-markets-in-trouble-over-tourism-gentrification|
|Al Jazeera||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||>2000 words||Reported|
Earlier this week, Kenya Cuevas led 15 fellow transgender women to block the road outside of Mexico City's Human Rights Commission with two cars and a coffin. They were protesting because of the continued lack of justice in the murder of Paola Buenrostro. Like Kenya, Paola was a trans woman and a sex worker; she'd worked in the central Tabacalera neighborhood, one of the main districts for transgender sex workers, and was stabbed by a client in 2016. Her case remains in impunity--as do most femicides and transfemicides in Mexico.
This week's action was one of many for Kenya. The 45-year-old began her activism while in prison over a decade ago, and since then, she's advocated for rights of trans women and sex workers on the local and national level. Last month, she inaugurated a shelter for trans women, called the Casa de Muñecas Tiresias.
I'm hoping to write a piece profiling Kenya and her work, while also exploring the current-day state of criminalization of sex workers and impunity of transfeminicdes in Mexico.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/indepth/features/don-murderers-fight-justice-mexico-200202123047904.html|
|Domino||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor), From a pitch call on twitter or other public forum||Pitch: Does a cleaner space mean a happier mind?||600 words||Service||I saw you put out a call for pitches on Twitter. I have a wellness/home story idea that may be a fit.|
Does a cleaner space mean a happier mind?
When I'm in a funk and looking for a way out, I often turn to cleaning and organizing my apartment. The act of cleaning—and the end result—often leaves me feeling better and more positive. And on the other side, I find that bad moods can leave me throwing clothes on the floor and not washing dishes, which further perpetuates the negative energy.
I'd like to write an ~800 word story on this connection between mood and cleanliness. I'll speak with psychologists and similar experts to answer questions like which comes first, a clear mind or a clean home? How does cleaning lift spirits? How might clutter put you in a bad mood in the first place? There have already been a few studies that show how clutter can increase stress, and how clutter and depression are related.
|Web, Changed a little from pitch||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.domino.com/content/cleaning-mental-health/|
|Outside Magazine||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||PITCH: Aussie Survivalist John Plant Wants to Teach You how to Build Primitive Shelters||1500 words||Profile||Hi Matt,|
In 2018, John Plant became known as the man you gained nearly a million Youtube subscribers without saying a word. His channel, Primitive Technology, features videos oh Plant constructing ancient shelters using only the materials found on his woodland property in Far North Queensland, Australia. He fells trees to build walls and roofs, fires natural clay to make pots (which are used to make mud to fortify walls), and builds elaborate hearths in the earth.
He became a quiet internet sensation and championed the hobby of building with what you can find in your own backyard. This October, Plant is releasing a book on the subject — "Primitive Technology: A Survivalist's Guide to Building Tools, Shelters, and More in the Wild" — through Penguin Random House that will instruct readers on how to use primitive technologies and spend more time in the natural world.
I thought this would make a great FOB or digital piece for Outside Magazine — a quick write-up or Q&A with Plant about taking a step backwards when we live in such a technological era. I've secured an interview with Plant through the publisher.
I'm a freelance journalist and editor based in Portland, Ore. I've written for Boston Magazine, the Outline and Motherboard. I've recently worked as an editor at two trade publications — National Fisherman Magazine and Commercial UAV News.
Let me know if this idea is of interest to you. Can't wait to talk to talk to you about!
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.outsideonline.com/2404416/john-plant-primitive-technology-youtube-channel|
|Heated||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Writer's PITCH: This Sushi Chef Forages for the Freshest Seafood in the Bay Area||1200 words||Profile||Hi Mark,|
I'm a freelance journalist in Portland, Ore., with a passion for sustainability and cooking. For the past six months I've been watching sushi chef Taku Kondo forage for fresh seafood in the Bay Area, documenting his sustainable harvest methods for his growing Youtube audience.
Each week Taku takes a trip out to a beach within driving distance of San Francisco to wander the shore in search of scuttling crabs, fresh seaweed and the occasional eel hiding under a rock. Right there on the beach Taku prepares sashimi and handrolls, explaining to his viewers the importance of eating local and respecting our natural food sources.
His channel boasts 181k followers who he regularly interacts with in the comments. He recently hosted Hiroyuki Terada, creator of the 1.47 million subscribed channel "Diaries of a Master Sushi Chef," to go foraging with him.
I'd love to write a short feature on Taku Kondo, his Youtube and cooking career, using it as a jumping off point to talk about the general practice of sustainable foraging for sushi ingredients.
I was an editor at National Fisherman Magazine, a trade publication covering commercial fishing and seafood, for about four years before recently switching over to covering commercial drone applications. I recently wrote a piece for Boston Magazine on the fight against facial recognition technology.
Let me know if this story idea is of interest to you! I think it'd be a great one for Heated readers!
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://heated.medium.com/meet-the-sushi-chef-who-uses-the-beach-as-his-kitchen-78630fd988f8|
|The New Republic||To an editor/publication you had other connection to, Mutuals with editor on Twitter but had never pitched them before.||[PITCH]Believers Bail Out Embodies The Legacy Of Black Muslims Working Towards Prison Abolition||1500 words||Reported||Hello,|
My name is Vanessa Taylor. I covered digital surveillance for Vice's Motherboard and an NYC bodega boycott for Teen Vogue. With Ramadan approaching, I'd love to profile Believers Bail Out as a way to highlight Black Muslims' historic and ongoing role in prison abolition work.
This year, Ramadan begins in late April. During it, Muslims pay zakat, which is a portion of wealth donated in charity. Organizations like Believers Bail Out (BBO) carry on a tradition of abolitionist work by encouraging Muslims to pay their zakat to bail.
Profiling BBO allows me to highlight what Muslims are doing today in working towards prison abolition. Their campaign is a great example of how to effectively use digital organizing, too. In its first year, BBO raised $153,000 and was able to free over ten people.
With this piece, I also want to weave the history of Black Muslims' prison abolition efforts in the United States. I intend to speak with BOB members and experts on the role of Black Muslims in abolition work such as Garrett Felber. Doing so will help readers understand that Black Muslims' involvement in prison abolition is not a new trend.
Looking forward to hearing back.
|Web||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://newrepublic.com/article/157414/leaving-no-others-behind-ramadan|
|Teen Vogue||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor), Editor I pitched to before and she declined previously||Grief + Never Have I Ever Pitch||1200 words||Essay||Hello,|
I hope in the midst of this crisis that you are your family and friends are doing well. I’m a fan of Teen Vogue and wanted to pitch something timely.
Mindy Kaling’s Never Have I Ever has sparked so many conversations about representation and who is served by which narratives. While I’ve seen a few reviews which talk about the aspect of growing up as an Indian-American I haven’t seen an exploration of the characters deep sense of grief stemming from the loss of her father. In this sense, I believe the show captured experiences that are very specific to grieving at that age, ones that I can relate to as I was a few years younger than Devi when my own father passed away.
I can’t say I’d ever anticipated seeing the experience of “seeing your father” post death portrayed on screen but when Devi sees a coyote and believes it to be her dad I did blink incredulously because I would “see” my father in crowds after he passed away. Also, the experience of how seemingly innocuous things like the sound of an ambulance or a class can trigger deep sadness was incredibly relatable to me. I also related deeply to a scene wherein an Indian auntie asks why they haven’t spread the ashes yet, as there is much cultural and religious significance on this event but many reasons for wanting to hold on to the memory of your parent by not completing this event. I’d love to explore this theme in an essay for Teen Vogue.
My most recent freelance pieces, a reported feature and book review, have published in South Side Weekly which is a non-profit weekly that covers the South Side of Chicago (my hometown). I also have a personal essay in the works at Catapult Magazine about my Indian-American identity and being an art lover.
Additionally, I’m the Deputy News Editor for The New School Free Press ,my campus newspaper, and have served as the News Editor previously.
Thank you for your consideration and have a great day!
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.teenvogue.com/story/never-have-i-ever-grief-of-losing-a-parent||Creator of the show I mentioned (Mindy Kaling) retweeted the piece as well as the executive editor of Teen Vogue|
|The Globe and Mail||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||Pitch: Toronto food bank "The Stop" on the frontline against COVID-19||900 words||Reported||Hi ____,|
I know how busy you are, but I think this is a really important story that I’d love to cover for the Globe.
Toronto food bank “The Stop” is continuing to serve as a crucial emergency service amid the COVID-19 crisis. In the past 3 weeks, the Food Bank has seen a steep increase in members. On a busy day before the virus, the Stop would see maybe 9 new members, but lately, that number has jumped to 25+ a day. The Food Bank is rushing to prepare over 350 meals per day while dealing with volunteer shortages and scarce resources.
Similar to every business adapting to the new reality, the Stop has had to change operations significantly. With 3 locations across the GTA, the food bank is no longer able to welcome members inside due to physical distancing—which can be heartbreaking for members who really don’t have anywhere else to go. Unfortunately, due to the virus, the Stop has also had to cancel its 3 big Spring fundraisers, threatening its ability to stay viable moving forward.
I’d love to write a feature on how the Stop is adjusting to the new normal while experiencing increased demand and continuing to serve its community. One of the community chef’s, Monica Bettson, wrote this powerful blog post on how things have changed, and the emotional impact it's had on her. I have a contact for a woman on The Stop’s leadership team who I’m sure would be happy to speak to me/introduce me to others for this story.
Thanks and hope to hear back soon.
|Web, Changed a little from pitch||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/toronto/article-canadian-food-banks-struggle-to-stay-open-just-as-demand-for-their/||Ended up broadening it to include other food banks|
|ZORA Magazine||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor), From a pitch call on twitter or other public forum||PITCH: What Does an Asian American Reckoning Look Like?||600 words||Review||Hi [EDITOR],|
My name is Taylor Moore, and I'm an Asian-American journalist based in Chicago. I've written for Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Chicago Review of Books, and other outlets. I saw your call for 2020 pitches and wanted to throw my hat in the ring.
For Zora, I'd love to feature Cathy Park Hong, who is coming out with Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning on 2/25. In this essay collection, the New Republic poetry editor dissects her Korean-American upbringing, the "vague purgatorial" place that Asian-Americans occupy in U.S. cultural consciousness, and how our experiences become flattened in service of politically driven model minority narratives.
I think that this would interest Zora readers because it reflects a moment (one of many to come, I predict) of Asian-American radicalization. There is deep economic and social stratification amongst the many communities and cultures that make up the group, and the gatekeepers of publishing and film are finally starting to see the value of our disaggregated narratives. Not only that, but I also think there is an emerging realization that our continued existence is tied up with advocating for (and with) other communities of color, rather than the American dream of assimilation into whiteness.
In terms of format, I could write this in longform, similar to this interview with Carmen Maria Machado, or as a Q&A. Let me know what you think would work best.
Here are some examples of other work I've done: [XYZ]
Thanks! I look forward to hearing back.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://zora.medium.com/crazy-rich-asians-will-not-liberate-us-25b947f3deb8|
|The American Prsopect||To an editor/publication you had other connection to||PITCH: Despite promises of paid leave, Uber fail to deliver for their workers once again||1200 words||Review||Hi EDITOR, I hope this finds you well despite the current circumstances we’re in. I’m a freelance reporter whose work has most recently appeared in The New OUTLET, OUTLET, and OUTLET. I had a somewhat timely pitch I wanted to run by you: |
As the coronavirus pandemic spread, Uber announced it was offering 2 weeks’ paid leave to drivers who couldn’t work due to being immunocompromised or who had COVID-19. But who’s getting this benefit is unclear.
I already have a few sources ready to share their experiences, such as Steve Gregg, who, before the coronavirus pandemic, worked 12-hour days, and James, who’s been a gig driver for 5 years now, despite only being 23. Once the coronavirus hit, they stopped driving, not wanting to risk their lives because they are at high risk of contracting the virus. James applied to Lyft as well, for whom he also drives, who also rejected him to little fanfare. Other drivers I’ve spoken to said that they haven’t heard of anyone qualifying for the paid leave provision, leaving them wondering who exactly was qualified and where the millions of dollars that gig companies such as Uber and Lyft promised their drivers was going.
At the same time, days before the CARES Act passed, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote a letter to both Congressional leaders and President Trump, asking for federal funding to provide “support for the independent workers on our platform,” carefully sidestepping an ongoing legal battle as to whether gig workers are employees of the platforms they work for.
To date, neither Steven nor James have qualified for the paid leave provision, even though it’s now passed a month since Uber announced this benefit. "They’ve done nothing to supply, reimburse, compensate, follow up, or support drivers. They’re just cutting drivers’ throats now,” Steven said. “Uber still hasn’t given me my driver payout. I won’t be able to pay car insurance, utilities or rent. The unemployment [office] hasn’t called back in a month,” James said on April 17. “We make Uber literally all of their money and I can’t even afford my insulin in the state of Texas.”
I’d like to write a story about how despite gig companies’ claims that they’re providing their workers needed relief, the coronavirus pandemic has merely exposed the holes in their business models, which merely provide workers a pittance even in the tightest economic times. This week alone, both Uber and Lyft announced they would lay off between 17 and 20% of their workforce. I imagine this as a 1,200-1,500 word story; I have conducted the majority of my reporting already.
Please let me know your thoughts on whether this is something The American Prospect would be interested in. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
|Web||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://prospect.org/coronavirus/uber-bait-and-switch-on-paid-sick-leave/|
|CNN||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with, To an editor/publication you had other connection to||How road-tripping with a senior dog opened up a new way to travel||1200 words||Narrative||Last fall, my husband and I loaded our truck camper and set out on a three-week road trip touring the Pacific Northwest. Collectively, Mike and I have spent months, maybe years, living out of the back of a truck together, but as we packed, we knew this trip was different. Rather than scouring deserts for climbable cliffs, we were chasing water in honor of our beloved dog's "adoptiversary" and 14th birthday. |
In her youth, Bagel accepted aquatic adventures as a side dish, but this time they would be the trip's driving force. On the road for about 21 days, she got wet on all but 3, whether that was spending an entire afternoon on a golden beach on Vancouver Island or snatching a few minutes to access a highway-side river in Idaho. Thanks to Bagel, we dug into landscapes we may never have motivated to visit otherwise, and set a leisurely pace that allowed for time to watch and listen in new ways.
I'd love to write an 800 to 1,000-word essay that traces this experience to highlight a lesson that's relevant to all of us: As great as it is to chase our own passions on the road, it's also eye-opening to find a travel companion (canine, human, or other) whose desires veer off in a totally different direction. Maybe, given the current situation, there's a way to tie it into finding beauty and joy in unexpected places (but in one's back yard rather than on a road trip)?
I've written essays for Sierra, Delta Sky, BBC Travel, and others.
|Changed a little from pitch||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/senior-dog-travel/index.html|
|The New Republic||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||PITCH: Plight of gig workers post-AB5||1500 words||Reported||Hi EDITOR, |
I hope this finds you well. I’m a freelance labor reporter based in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. My work has appeared in The Baffler, The American Prospect, Scalawag Magazine, and more. I have a pitch I wanted to run by you:
In September, California passed Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) which codifies and expands previous court decisions concerning workers’ employment statuses, often as a result of the cost-cutting decisions that gig economy companies such as Uber, Doordash, and Lyft have pursued, saving them potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes, healthcare costs, unemployment, sick leave, and other benefits associated with full-time employment in favor of classifying their workers as independent contractors. AB5 promises to help mitigate some of that, and gig workers like Instacart Shopper and labor organizer Vanessa Bain have said that it “has the ability to totally and completely change the future of labor.”
However, workers have reported that as gig economy companies become more and more popular, they have seen a titration downwards in their wages, impacting their abilities to support themselves and their families, as one algorithmic tweak to a platform or app can send them into financial ruin. The fact remains that states like California where gig work is rampant are undergoing crises of lack of affordable housing, climate change, and extreme wealth inequity. Governments need to, and have so far proven reluctant or incapable of, contending with the damage that gig economy companies have wrought as the result of their “move fast and break things” ethos. While AB5 is a good start to begin addressing discrepancies, such as gig companies’ seeming carte blanche ability to lower workers’ wages or deactivate accounts without cause, workers say it’s simply not enough to counteract the gig economy's influence as it has spread to other sectors and has threatened to supplant traditional employment at a time when newly created jobs do not offer the same protections as previous ones and stagnating wages continue to widen the divide between rich and poor. Some gig economy workers are fighting back, through groups such as Gig Workers Rising or with the recent nationwide Instacart strike and subsequent boycott, but remain at the mercy of their employers’ policies. After the strike and boycott, Instacart notified its Shoppers via email that it had scrapped its quality bonuses, effectively ending the one perk that Shoppers often cling to as a cushion to bolster their meager wages.
Let me know if you are interested in this as a 2,000 word piece. I have spoken to experts such as Cal Labor Center’s Ken Jacobs, On The Clock author Emily Guendelsberger, Gig Workers Rising’s Vanessa Bain, and have plans to speak to several more gig workers from Instacart, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Uber.
I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
|Changed significantly from pitch||1-2 emails from editor||https://newrepublic.com/article/156202/silicon-valley-economy-here-its-nightmare|
|New York Times||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||As grocery stores empty, people are turning to their backyards for food||>2000 words||Reported||"People are panic-buying chickens like they did toilet paper," according to the VP of Murray McMurray hatchery. Hatcheries and farm stores like Tractor Supply are seeing an unusual uptick in purchases, often selling out of chicks within a few hours of a new shipment. As each trip to the grocery store becomes more fraught due to worries about spreading/getting Covid-19 and shelves empty of staple items like eggs and chicken, people are turning to their backyards for food. Whether it's raising chickens, starting 2020 versions of victory gardens, or baking food self-sufficiency is on the rise in households throughout America. |
I've written for Eater, NPR, The Ringer, and others and am an avid chicken keeper and gardener. I've linked to a few clips below.
|Print, Web, Changed a little from pitch||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/28/style/chicken-eggs-coronavirus.html||Editor asked me to focus more on the animal side of things (in this case, chickens!) because they had a garden/food story in the works already. Was a lovely process and my first pitch to the NYT Styles section.|
|The New York Times||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||WOC Pitch: Does My Child's Name Erase My Identity?||1200 words||Essay||Hi Melonyce,|
I'd like to pitch an essay for NYT Parenting about how I--as an Asian American woman--am struggling with my 1-year-old daughter's white-sounding name. It is about how I originally thought her four names were a beautiful compromise, but now--because of how white-presenting her appearance is--I feel a tremendous sense of loss that I feel ashamed to talk about.
My husband is Jewish and white; I am Japanese and Taiwanese. I chose to keep my last name when we married; I wanted to hang on to that integral part of my culture and heritage. When we named our daughter, we chose carefully: her first name was chosen to honor my dead father, her first middle name is both Hebrew and Japanese, her second middle name is my Taiwanese last name, and her last name is my husband's Germanic last name. We wanted to gesture to all our families, all the branches that make up our family tree.
Before she was born, I was pleased with the names. Yet as my daughter grows, it's clear that she is very white-presenting. Her eyes are bluish-gray, her hair is light brown. When I'm not with her, people are surprised that she's Asian at all. And while I've tried to wrestle with what this means--for her to present as white in a society that hugely privileges whiteness, in a society that incarcerated my grandfather for being Japanese, I've become more frustrated with her name.
Most people will only know her by her first and last names, which look white: [her name/redacted]. My name is Jami Nakamura Lin. When I look at her name, and her face, I don't see myself. I can't control how her beautiful face looks--and I would not want to--but I can control her name, and so I'm wrestling with whether to change her last name now, whether to keep it, or whether to let her choose later. And I also feel foolish for caring so much about this-- a name is just a name--but at the same time, it feels like a hugely important part of my identity is not going to be a visible part of her.
This essay will not end with a definitive decision: to change or not to change. Rather, I hope to give a voice to a topic not often discussed: the ways name-changing traditions can often erase visible POC identity, the loss marginalized people might feel when our children no longer look marginalized, the difficulties that go into our naming decisions, and how we can cope with all of this.
Here are some clips:
I'm a Mother With Bipolar Disorder (in Family Story)
Ali Wong's Memoir Isn't Just By An Asian American--It's Written To and For Us (in Electric Literature)
My Father and the Dragon King (in Catapult)
Thank you for considering my pitch!
-Jami Nakamura Lin
|Print, Web, Stayed as pitched||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/05/parenting/baby-name-family-history.html||This was originally for the Parenting section (web), but it was also featured on the "front page" of the NYT website, and later was used in print in the Sunday Styles section.|
|Food & Wine||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||CA Pitches [This was in response to a request for pitches for a California issue]||1500 words||Reported||Santa Barbara’s Wine Country Grows Up|
In a small, warehouse-like building off a nondescript road in Buellton, a couple dozen people are lined up at a restaurant called Industrial Eats, waiting to order some of the best food in California’s Central Coast. The crowd is mix of local ranchers, families from Santa Barbara (an hour away), and tourists who have driven up from Los Angeles to visit local wineries. They’ve all come for perfectly charred wood oven pizza topped with peaches, bacon, and basil; salads of ripe tomatoes mixed with salty capers and marinated onions; and daily specials like marrow bones with quail egg, locally-raised rabbit, mussels steamed with lemongrass and coconut, and oysters paired with uni.
Fifteen miles away, in the tiny town of Los Alamos (population 1,890, zero stoplights), the line at Bob’s Well Bread Bakery snakes out the door as people wait for up to half an hour to order perfectly flaky pastries, eggs with purple potatoes and gruyere, and toast topped with seasonal mushrooms with creme fraiche, lardons, and shallots. Even the town of Solvang, known for its half-timbered Danish-style houses and shops full of tchotchkes, is now home to Cecco Ristorante, an Italian spot opened by former James Beard Award-winning chef David Cecchini.
In the past 15 years, since the movie Sideways put Santa Barbara’s young, still experimental wine region on the map, the area has grown tremendously; it now boasts seven distinct AVAs and nearly 100 wineries. Despite this growth the region has maintained its unique, rural character with tasting rooms housed in old farmhouses with views of golden ranch land. But in the past five years or so, Santa Barbara’s wine country has turns a corner of sorts—an influx of high-quality (locally-owned) restaurants and upscale hotels and resorts, like the nearby Bacara (just half and hour down the highway) that have taken this area from a place where dedicated wine enthusiasts came for unique bottles to a legitimate destination to spend a long weekend.
I would love to write up a front-of-book travel piece outlining the area’s unique character and giving recommendations for some of the best/most unique restaurants, wineries, and sights or even do a longer piece chronicling a weekend there.
|Print, Changed a little from pitch, Was pitched as either FoB or feature, was assigned as a feature||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.muckrack.com/portfolio/items/8821842/SB_Wine_for_FoodWine.pdf|
|Food & Wine||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||Pitch: Singapore's Private Kitchens||1200 words||Reported||I'm going to be in Singapore in July to cover some things for a travel magazine (mostly the new airport attractions and a couple hotels). While I'm there, I would love to report something about one of the city's newest and most popular dining trends: private kitchens run out of cooks' homes.|
Singapore's private kitchen scene is pretty new—the first ones opened in 2014—and it has recently taken off in a big way, thanks to government initiatives to encourage home-based businesses. The owners of these reservation-only spots range from skilled home cooks to chefs who are leaving the restaurant scene in order to work in a more relaxed environment with more creative freedom. I think this is a really interesting evolution of Singapore's dining scene, because for the past decade the focus has been on promoting the city's hawker centers and the introduction of the Michelin Guide (which didn't cover Singapore until just three years ago) and the high-end French, Japanese, and mod-Sin (local fusion) restaurants that cater to the guide. These new home-based restaurants feel like a reaction to those trends. Some focus on local styles of cooking that many feel are being cheapened or changed by the focus on cheap hawker fare while others (especially the ones run by chefs) seem to be an explicit step away from the pressures of a Michelin-style establishment.
I would love to write a travel piece looking at this trend with a quick round-up of some of the city's top locations. Some of the most popular private kitchens in the city include:
Fatfuku—This is currently rated #1 by the South China Morning Post and focuses on a fusion of Eurasian and Peranakan foods (Singapore's most local style of cooking, which comes from the Peranakan ethnic group, the descendants of Chinese merchants who intermarried with local Malaysians). The "restaurant" is a loft apartment run by local food writer Annette Tan, and her menu includes dishes like a Wagyu beef cheek rendang, a gado gado chopped salad, and a white rabbit ice candy cream sandwich
The Mustard Seed Pop-Up—This weekend only spot is run by Gan Ming Kiat, a chef who has cooked at some of the city's best restaurants, including Goto, an acclaimed kaiseki restaurant, and Candlenut, the city's Michelin-starred, top-rated Peranakan restaurant. Here he combines the kaiseki style with local flavors and ingredients. The menu consists of a 8-9 dish tasting menu that varies frequently.
Ampang Kitchen—Run by a retired accountant in is '70s and his son, this place offers the kinds of classic Singaporean dishes that locals worry are going out of style as the city focuses its money on high-end fusion restaurants. (There is also talk in the local press about how their cooking is helping maintain traditional ways of making foods that are often cheapened or in hawker centers.) Their home is a large terrace house in an exclusive neighborhood, and their meals include dishes like satay bohong (skewers of marinated pork belly) and tek sio (braised duck with tamarind and cilantro).
Lynette's Kitchen—This was one of the city's first private kitchens, and it's still a favorite. The cook is a well-known violinist who a founding member of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. She still plays professionally (and sometimes even plays for her dinner guests), but on her "off-time" she makes classic Peranakan dishes like oxtail rendang.
There are, of course, many others, including Lucky House Cantonese Private Kitchen for Chinese food and Mr Tan’s Kelong, which is on a floating fish farm and difficult to get to. I've also been talking with some local foodies (including Chris Tan, whose work you probably remember from Saveur) who might able to steer me to any new or particularly worthy spots.
These home-based restaurants usually only take reservations from groups of six or larger, so I'd have to contact them and see if I could piggyback on existing reservations, but if I could try one or two spots, I could then interview the owners/chefs of some others outside of dinner hours to fill out the story.
Let me know what you think!
|Print, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.foodandwine.com/travel/asia/singapores-private-kitchens|
|Washington Post||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||PITCH: Once he was a refugee sleeping in LA's bus station. Thanks to 'The Lion KIng,' Lebo M now collaborates with Beyoncé.||1500 words||Profile||Hi Allison,|
I’m a freelance writer who’s worked for Univision and Telemundo. My freelance writing has appeared in VICE, Salon and Quartz. Currently, I’m a contributing writer for Forbes.com. I’d like to pitch an idea for the Washington Post Inspired Life blog.
Lebohang Harake was once a homeless political refugee. For over two years in Los Angeles, he slept wherever he could, including frequently the Greyhound bus station. The South African exile was forced to beg during the day for money and food, even while he performed at jazz clubs at night.
Today, thanks to his work on Disney’s “The Lion King,” Lebo M (as he’s known professionally) is collaborating with Beyoncé on the new release “Spirit.” The composer/producer/singer appeared next to Mrs. Knowles-Carter at the film’s European premiere in London yesterday. (I’m including a screenshot of Lebo M’s Instagram feed with a photo of him next to Beyoncé, Elton John and Pharrell.)
I interviewed Lebo on Saturday. The beauty of his story, as well as his compassion and humility, made me cry. I suspect Inspired Life readers will find it moving too.
Would you be interested in the piece? I’d be willing to submit on spec since we’ve not worked together.
[IG Photo of Lebo M with Beyoncé, etc.]
|Web, Stayed as pitched||3+ emails from editor||https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/08/01/he-was-once-homeless-living-bus-station-now-hes-now-collaborating-with-beyonc-lion-king/|
|Bloomberg Green||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||query: Florida's sugar burns||>2000 words||Reported||Belle Glade, FL is at the center of the Everglades Agricultural Area, 400,000 acres just south of Lake Okeechobee that are home to the largest concentration of sugar plantations in the country. Domino, C&H, US Sugar and more all grow cane here amounting to 75% of the US harvest, supplying brands such as Hershey, Kellogg’s, Pepsi, and Nestle, and supermarket chains including Costco and Kroger. Together they have an economic impact of $3 billion, according to an analysis by the Cato Institute.|
But there's a price. Florida's sugar companies still practice crop-residue burning, a method of clearing the fields of organic material to make it easier for mechanical harvesters to collect the valuable cane. The burning produces think plumes of smoke, and ash that locals refer to as "black snow." Many fields are immediately adjacent to homes and schools; children at Rosenwald Elementary, which borders a US Sugar field, are sometimes sent to the hospital during the October-to-May harvest season, and often visit the school nurse between classes to go on a breathing machine. "It was normal to us growing up," said Kina Phillips, who attended Rosenwald and has a child in fourth grade there today. "'Kina--go get your inhaler and go play.' Why? Why should our schools be so filled with inhalers?" Nikiri Ess, 23 and a resident of Belle Glade, had a child in February. In April he was diagnosed with asthma. "He's suffering from wheezing, breathing problems," she said. "I just wish they could really stop the burning because my child is really suffering and he's so young. He's already diagnosed with suffering that a grownup has to go through."
Australia and Brazil have outlawed crop-residue burning in their sugar industries because of its effect on human health. The practice produces hazardous compounds, including possible human carcinogens. Studies in Brazil, Mexico, Louisiana, and Hawaii have linked it to health problems, and a Florida International University study of the EAA showed 15 times the amount of PAH chemicals, which animal studies have linked to cancer, during the burn season compared with the summer months. Florida today emits 17% of all the emissions of carbon monoxide and 2.5-micron particulate matter--pollutants that are also in automobile emissions--that come from crop residue burning in the US. Palm Beach County and Hendry County emit more pollution from agricultural fires annually--more than 12,000 of them--than any other counties in the US for 34 pollutant categories, according to the EPA. Its data also shows that Belle Glade is in the 9th percentile nationally for air toxicity cancer risk.
Household income in the region is below Florida’s median, and its unemployment rate is higher; poverty stands at 39%. A majority of residents are African-American. Wealthier, whiter communities east of the EAA don't face their problems with burning: In the 1990s, residents in Palm Beach complained to the state and now it won't issue burn permits--which are applied for and granted within days--when the weather forecasts that wind will blow towards their homes. "The more affluential folks started complaining about it and they gave them the courtesy--they won't burn," said Pastor Steve Messam, whose son sleeps on a breathing machine but leaves it at home when he visits his grandparents in Michigan. "But they won't give us who live in the middle of these fields the same courtesy." Even when including all of Palm Beach County, which encompasses both Belle Glade and Mar-a-Lago, it ranks third in the state for asthma hospitalizations and 5th for emergency department visits.
Phillips, Messam, and others in the community are now fighting to force the industry to stop burning. In June, residents filed a class-action lawsuit against 12 companies calling for compensatory damages, medical monitoring of the plaintiffs, and an injunction against further burning in the EAA. The sugar industry has launched a counterattack that has included misinformation and scare tactics, and accuses the campaign against burning of being led by "outsiders" because the Sierra Club is involved in organizing residents. Shanique Scott, a former mayor of Belle Glade who owns a dance studio in town where students bring their breathing machines into class during the burn season, finds this ironic. "They don't live here, the owners of the sugar companies," she said. "Their kids do not have to suffer with billows of smoke 8 months of the year."
When Brazil switched to "green harvesting," a method that involves no burning, annual hospital admission rates in sugar-growing regions dropped, with the most pronounced effect among residents younger than 15 and older than 60. But the US sugar industry, which gave more than $5 million to members of Congress in the 2014 election cycle, receives $4 billion in annual subsidies from the federal government to prop up prices, shielding it from forces that have incentivized innovation in other sugar-growing nations. Florida's sugar companies practice green harvesting themselves when the fields are too wet to burn, and on a field adjacent to a Walmart in the EAA. Louisiana sugar operations sell the mulch collected from green harvesting, recouping the cost, and a large Brazilian company enjoyed a 20% increase in yields after making the switch and has been able to phase out all chemical fertilizers and pesticides, eliminating those costs. "Every company that you know is always finding innovative ways to make their company better, coming up with new ideas," Phillips asks of Domino and the others. "Why you trying to stay in the '80s?"
"I'm six generations in this community and I don't plan on going anywhere anytime soon because that's not what the Lord has shown me," she continued. "So I'm not gonna leave for my kids to do what we should, and our ancestors before should have done already."
I'll travel to central Florida during the burn season to focus on whomever among these sources emerges as the best character and report on its effects on the health and welfare of residents in Belle Glade and surrounding communities. I'll also interview sugar company executives or their proxies advocating for no changes to burning practices; local doctors and politicians; agronomists and ag engineers who have compared burning with green harvesting; and other organizers.
Interesting? Great opportunity for video alongside this one, and I imagine you'd want to send a photog with me so they can image the same fires I'll be describing.
|Web, Award-winner||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-03-28/america-s-sugar-cane-growers-have-a-burning-problem?srnd=author||$2.50/word + travel expenses from Amsterdam to Florida (5 days)|
|Bloomberg Green||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with, Pitch requested by editor||re: checking in||>2000 words||Reported||Have you heard of Phylagen? It has a new solution for supply-chain validation and transparency that draws on DNA sequencing and the microbiome. Co-founder Jessica Green conducted research in each of these areas as a professor at the University of Oregon, and has fused the fields to devise a way to figure out whether sneakers, minerals, or medicine actually comes from where your brand is telling people it comes from. This is a big problem in a range of sectors: Even after the Rana Plaza disaster, apparel brands have had a hard time verifying that their t-shirts or whatever are made in the factory they contracted with. Many factories in places like Bangladesh may meet worker safety conditions set out in agreements such as the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety or the government's own Sustainability Compact of 2017--but they may outsource to places that do not. |
This is where Phylagen steps in: They are building a microbiome map of the world--samples of dust from sites around the globe that are analyzed for the microscopic traces of bacteria, fungi, viruses and more that live on the dust. Those in turn have unique DNA signatures, and the combination amounts to a location's fingerprint (fingerprints are not even that distinctive, by comparison). The factory where your t-shirts are made does not have the same microbial fingerprint as the firetrap down the street. So if you get your t-shirts back and they don't have the same combination of microbes as Phylagen sampled from the factory you're contracting with, you know something is amiss.
This technology has all kinds of applications. Bogus prescription meds, vitamins, and herbal supplements from factories China and India that the FDA doesn't have the resources to check (a problem I wrote about for Pacific Standard), a $200b business that kills 1m people a year worldwide. Tantalite and other components of cell phones and electronics that might come from a friendly bloke in Australia, or from a murderous warlord in the DRC. Palm oil from illegally deforested land. Sapphires from protected lemur habitat. Shipping containers with falsified point-of-origin docs. Illegal fishing operations. Wherever people are supplying stuff, there are scammers cutting corners to supply it more cheaply. With enough data, Phylagen will be able to work backwards and predict the last place an object was, rather than relying on a match with a known sample to verify a point of origin.
Worth 800 words? I've met Green and am confident she'll sit for an interview. I'll also talk to apparel industry watchers on the challenge of maintaining a "clean" supply chain, and an expert on microbiomics I've written about for validation that the science is legit.
|Web, Award-winner||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-23/phylagen-uses-dna-to-make-supply-chain-sustainability-transparent||$1.25/word|
|The Washington Post||Had worked with other editors/departments at the paper, but never this one||In The Age Of Trump, Can I Get Off My Kid's Back About Spelling?||1200 words||Essay||I've agonized plenty over my son's spelling tests. In second grade, we tried flash cards. In fourth grade, his most gaily-wrapped holiday gift was a dictionary. |
A funny thing happened when he entered middle school, though. Just as I thought he'd get shamed for his intractably abominable spelling, just as I started worrying future employers would shun him, our country's chief executive began skating by with "covfefe" and a "smocking gun." Some suggest
President Donald Trump's errors are a dig at highly-educated voters. Some say he just can't spell. The effect is the same, though: If the president of the United States can't distinguish between role and roll, is it really a problem that my kid can't either?
I'm suggesting a mix of essay and reported article on this changing societal norm, talking with employment specialists, teachers, sociologists -- and maybe my own 11-year-old. We know that strict spelling drills have become less important in schools since the rise of spellcheck, but this seems like
a more fundamental change. I don't know whether we're on the road to an idiocracy or a better world, but, like any mom, I'd like to think my kid could become president one day. I'm grateful that he might be qualified after all.
My own qualifications: I'm a reporter with experience on the education and parenting beats at major metropolitan newspapers -- and a couple high school spelling bee championships under my belt. My resume is online at xxxx.
|Web, Changed a little from pitch||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/01/29/era-spellcheck-autocorrect-does-it-matter-that-my-son-cant-spell/||Editor liked idea but asked if it could be more general and less Trump-focused.|
|Delta Sky Magazine||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||Breakaway pitch - Teaching a Caribbean Boy to Embrace Winter in Idaho||900 words||Essay||Add me to the list of people hurling pitches your way this week! I just thought of a Breakaway idea that could work for a winter issue (and through March) if you're interested. |
Soon after Javier, my Cuban husband, first arrived in the US from Cuba (new immigrant tie-in, yes!), I decided he needed to see snow for the very first time. He'd never been outside of the Caribbean before landing at Miami International Airport. So I picked a guarantee snow destination with direct Delta flights - Boise, ID - and off we went to spend four nights in McCall, ID (a two hour drive north of Boise airport), where there was something like four feet of snow on the ground and an ice festival taking over town.
We were new parents and it was our first trip without our four month old, and Javi's first time experiencing winter. I had all these expectations (always the first problem, right?) that he'd run through the powder and into the hot springs at the hotel with me that first night, but his approach to the white stuff was far more cautious - in fact, he wanted nothing to do with it, preferring to stay huddled fireside at the lodge.
I was full of worry, how could I have married a man who doesn't like winter? This led to some young marriage conflicts on vacation (ugh), but they all eventually get resolved on a snowmobile trip to a natural hot spring once used by miners in the 1800s (Burgdorf Springs, totally incredible middle-of-nowhere spot we rode to), where the Caribbean boy finally found the courage to dive in. And we come full circle to the resolution of our challenge in the pure magic of winter in the great American west - that is, before we had to exit the water and dry off to drive the snow machines back to town.
Anyway, this is a brief summary of my idea. I can corral it into an entertaining story if you're interested! Thank you for listening, Jen,
|Print, Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||http://terry-ward.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/IDAHO-story.pdf||Writing to 800 words was really hard for me, but I managed. We had to kill a lot of darlings but I'm happy with how it turned out. And I'm going to miss working with those great editors at Delta Sky a lot. I think this pitch shows how, once you get to know an editor a bit, you can be a bit less formal with pitching. I wouldn't have had this same tone with someone I was cold pitching.|
|Wine Enthusiast||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||Why Champagne and Meditation Pair Nicely||600 words||Reported||I'm a freelance wine, travel and design writer based in Wisconsin and have written some for the magazine as well as the website. (Here are two examples: travel guide to Milwaukee and '70s-themed bars —LINKED IN PITCH.) I even covered "wine and yoga" for your website back in 2007, haha. I'm also author of Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State's Best Creameries (Globe Pequot Press), published this past March.|
Wondering if you might be interested in a story about the recent intersection of Champagne and meditation? I have found two opportunities where you can dive into some om AND oenology.
--new at Malibu, California's Malibu Beach Inn a "medi-tasting" guided experience--which merges sipping Champagne Henriot flights (crafted in a 210-year-old Champagne house in France) with mindfulness techniques and meditation--is hosted by intuitive coach Cassandra Bodzak. According to promo materials, "Cassandra will take guests to a higher place of mindfulness, tranquility and serenity." The session's hosted in the glass-walled Carbon Beach Club restaurant. These images help illustrate the concept.
-also new at Surfjack Hotel in Honolulu: "Skakti & Champagne" series
For a story, I'd explore why these two activities (sipping Champagne and practicing meditation) should be practiced in tandem, with quotes from the two people hosting the above activities.
I look forward to your feedback!
|Web, Changed a little from pitch||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.winemag.com/2019/10/03/meditation-make-champagne-taste-better/amp/||Editor said three is a trend and because my pitch had only two examples I found a third. Then it was officially assigned.|
|The Atlantic||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Culture story pitch: Why we love bad food||>2000 words||Essay||Dear editors,|
We live in a time of perfectionism in food. Food rules come at us from
every direction, even though no one can agree which ones are right.
What we eat must be ethically sourced, organic, raw, gluten-free,
meat-free, dairy-free, protein-rich, low-fat, low in sodium, carbon
neutral, dirt-encrusted, pre-soaked, and fair trade. Cooking should be
simple and traditional, much like what our great-grandparents ate.
Food should be chef-inspired, executed with masterful knife skills in
a professional-grade kitchen. And by no means should anything we eat
contain sugar. Everyone knows that sugar is poison and grandma is
trying to kill us with those cookies.
It is no surprise, then, that interest is growing in food that breaks
rules. On blogs, in Facebook groups, and in a variety of listicles and
tumblrs, people are celebrating disastrous, unattractive, and
unhealthy food. Some poke fun at the mishaps of chefs, bakers and
cookbook authors, like the website Cake Wrecks, with its pictures of
tragically ambitious professional cakes, and the Gallery of
Regrettable Food, filled with scans of disgusting-looking vintage
recipes. Online groups dedicated to ugly homemade vegan food or other
culinary disasters celebrate the failures of home cooking in a series
of triumphantly unappetizing photos. From Vintage Food Disasters to
Someone Ate This, people seem to delight in terrible food old and new.
Even Martha Stewart, who filled a generation of homemakers with a
sense of inadequacy, has been tweeting revolting photos of her meals.
I’m interested in writing an essay about the growing fascination with
bad food. Part of this trend, I want to argue, is due to playful
rebellion against food prescriptivism. If there are too many rules to
follow, why not break them deliberately? This is the ethos behind
sites like peepmyeats.com, which shows readers how to deep-fry a Big
Mac or stuff a stack of pancakes with a Hersheys Cookies’n’Creme bar.
But there is something deeper to the love of imperfect food. Ugly food
is personal, the result of home cooking and experimentation in the
kitchen. Bad food speaks to individual tastes, to the awful
combinations we invent and eat when we are on our own. And unorthodox
food can reflect our identity or our past: from the pig parts that our
ancestors set in jelly to the meatloaf only mom could burn right.
The essay will be focused on cultural analysis and primarily based on
research, but I am open to incorporating reporting. I'll also note
that Martha Stewart turns 75 on August 3 this year!
I’m a writer and academic living in Germany, and the author of
foodgonewrong.com, a blog dedicated to failures in cooking and food
advertising. My writing has appeared in the Washington Post online,
the Yale Review, the Southwest Review, and Petits Propos Culinaires.
You can find my clips here:
https://irinadumitrescu.com/belles-lettres/ . I was recently nominated
for the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing
award and included in Best American Essays 2016.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing your decision.
|Web, Stayed as pitched, Award-winner||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/08/the-curious-appeal-of-bad-food/494255/||This was one of the pitches I did when taking Julie Collazo's Pitch Like a Honey Badger course. It basically paid for the course.|
|Roadtrippers||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||[Pitch] League Park/Baseball Heritage Museum||1200 words||Narrative||Hi EDITOR, |
Hope you’re well! Just wanted to send over a story pitch on Cleveland’s historic League Park:
League Park, a historic landmark in Cleveland, Ohio’s Hough neighborhood, once set the stage for a number of significant moments in baseball history. In its heyday, the field saw the likes of iconic players like Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Cy Young; as such, it’s perhaps the most fitting home for a baseball-themed museum.
After years of restorative work, League Park reopened to the public in 2014 and provided the city’s Baseball Heritage Museum with a new home in the building that once housed the park’s ticket office. The museum preserves and educates visitors on the important stories of the sport’s multicultural heritage, specifically focusing on contributions from the Latin, Caribbean, Negro, and Women’s leagues that helped shape the history of baseball as we know it. This year, the museum is planning a special exhibit for the 100th anniversary of the 1920 World Series, which not only took place at League Park, but was the first World Series won by the Cleveland Indians. It's expected to be open to the public by March 26th, which is this year's Opening Day of the MLB season, and will run through the actual anniversary date of the World Series, which is in October.
In addition to touring the park, I've interviewed one of the museum's docents and the museum's Assistant Curator to get a better feel for what work goes into curating each exhibit, the specific strategies they're currently implementing on the preservation front, and how they're framing these stories in the context of both baseball and Cleveland's history as a whole.
Hopefully this idea is of interest- let me know if I can provide any other information!
Thanks so much,
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://roadtrippers.com/magazine/league-park-cleveland-ohio/||Not really! The Roadtrippers editors have always been great to work with, and always pay on time.|
|CityMetric||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with, From a pitch call on twitter or other public forum||Pitch from a Writer: Can Seattle Smooth Its Stutter Steps Toward Cycling?||900 words||Reported||Hi Sommer,|
Thanks for your call out on Twitter. I'm a Seattle-based journalist (New York Times, Fortune, Travel + Leisure--as well as both CityLab and AtlasObscura during your tenures there, I believe, though not for you). I look forward to working with you on this and/or future pieces!
Since the shelter-at-home orders, I've watched the street next to my house, along with 18 more miles around the city, go from multi-use to temporarily closed to most cars, to permanently so. It's been an awkward process and I'd love to report on whether it will be successful by any metric--or what those metrics might be.
Can Seattle Smooth Its Stutter Steps Toward Cycling?
Under the cover of shelter-at-home orders, with traffic down significantly, the sudden closures of streets around Seattle to automobile through-traffic rolled out with little opposition. But when Mayor Jenny Durkan surprised residents by announcing that many of those closures would be permanent, opinions bifurcated.
Plagued by poor communication and hampered by the current situation, even people living on the blocked streets remained in the dark about what the closures meant, who could drive on the street, and how or when the permanent signage would work. Meanwhile, for many cyclists and parents, it doesn't go far enough.
But everything coming from all sides gets muddied through the limited communication of quarantine, which means that Seattle still has a chance to smooth its mistakes of a sudden, unplanned transition into something that benefits neighborhoods and makes at least one group happy.
In this reported piece, I'd speak with neighbors grouping to fight the decision, local greenways proponents, and city officials to see if there's a way to smooth out these stutter steps.
A few of my previous pieces on similar topics:
Why We Bike Everywhere as a Family And You Can Too | Parents
Coronavirus restaurant industry: Left with tons of premium food amid coronavirus shutdown, suppliers go direct to customers | Fortune
The Culinary Barter System Is Flourishing During Coronavirus - Eater
Stealing Moments at Seattle's Secret Beaches | CityLab
|Web, Changed a little from pitch||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.citymetric.com/transport/seattle-stay-healthy-streets-coronavirus-pedestrian-plans-5194|
|Parents||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Pitch from a writer: My E-bike Gave Me Back My Freedom||<300 words||Essay||Hi Julia,|
I'm a Seattle-based writer and have written for the New York Times (about vegan daycares), Saveur, and Travel + Leisure, and am the mother of two small children. I have an idea I think would be a great fit for Parents about how I regained the freedom of mobility I used to have before children.
My Freedom Cost $5000
Before I had kids, I biked 12 miles each way to an office. Before I had kids, I could take a bus as far as I wanted and--in a pinch--a rideshare home without worrying about car seats. My mobility was easy, my mode flexible.
When my first kid was born, I resisted getting a second car for the household: I hate driving, we live in a well-transited place. I dragged a car seat to Car2Go and into Ubers around the world. I tried to bike with her around our hilly neighborhood, but gave up: my body, which had carried her inside for nine months couldn't power up the ridge. When my second child was born, the dream ended, the final nail in the coffin of my car-resistant life. I couldn't cart two car seats around. If I needed to get anywhere a bus didn't go, I felt doomed to drive; I had nightmares about minivans.
Then I started watching out my window as parents dropped their children at the elementary school down the street--many on cargo bikes. I went to the bike shop and hemmed and hawed over the hefty price tag. I eventually justified it by saying it was saving us from buying another car, and picked out a big turquoise electric bike with two audacious orange child seats on the back.
Now, I've taught my kids to squeal as we go over speedbumps, and we can load it up with strollers, toys, and farmers market shops. It looks a little absurd, as I stop at a light, my two toddlers bobbleheading in their helmets behind me, two packed saddlebags hanging down. But when the light changes and I begin to peddle, feeling the wind in my face as the electric assist kicks in so I can peddle the 400 pounds of bike, people, and stuff up the hill to my house, I realize that while I may have had to purchase the minivan of bikes, I've also bought back my freedom and my mobility.
A few samples of my previous writing in similar styles or on similar topics below:
When Daycare Goes Vegan (New York Times)
Crossing the Pacific With a Pacifier (Delta Sky)
How My Picky Toddler Changed Dinner Time (Kitchn)
Let me know what you think! I look forward to working with you on this or future pieces.
|Print, Web, Changed significantly from pitch||3+ emails from editor||https://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/green/why-we-bike-everywhere-as-a-family-and-you-can-too/||This ended up going through three editors and getting shoehorned into an environmentally focused package, so it was pretty different than my original vision, but I was happy with it.|
|Elemental by Medium||From a pitch call in a private newsletter or email from editor||Writer Pitch on Mental Health (from [name of website])||900 words||Essay, Reported||It's nice to meet you (over email at least). Thanks for reaching out on my website! I'm a fan of Elemental's work on mental health, especially your recent article on fear responses in the brain and the one from April calling for a mental health response to coronavirus. |
I have two ideas for Elemental that would be perfect for the upcoming Minority Mental Health Awareness Month:
[First idea wasn't accepted.]
2) Since the George Floyd protests, the act of people of color speaking out about racial injustice has gone from a trend to a way of life. Social media users are calling out systematic racism in multiple professional fields, education and entertainment. Personally, I've experienced a positive psychological effect that has come from speaking out about the racism I've experienced. And it doesn't have to be as public as social media; even talking to close friends, family members or my therapist has exponentially made me feel better. I believe it's because when I used to sweep incidents that bothered me under the rug, I never got a sense of validation and I internalized negative feelings about myself. Now I'm following people of color across the country in calling out racism and affirming my sense of self.
For this reported personal essay I would include information from sources about the mental health benefits of speaking out against racism and injustice. Possible sources include Dr. Rheeda Walker, author of "The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health, and Della V. Mosely, PhD, who researches psychopolitical wellness of people and communities that are marginalized.
Please let me know if you're interested in either of these pieces. I'm available for all of July if you'd like me to file these quickly.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||1-2 emails from editor||https://elemental.medium.com/speaking-out-about-racism-boosts-your-mental-health-889203a4cfe3||The editor cold-emailed me saying that she looked at my portfolio after we interacted on Twitter and encouraged me to send in a mental health pitch.|
|Bright Lights Film Journal||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Pitch: Interview with director of film on modern day slavery in New York||>2000 words||Profile, Reported, Review||Dear Mr. XYZ,|
I hope you are doing well. In the 1990's, it was common for subway commuters in New York to encounter deaf 'students' who sold trinkets to 'fund education'. When the police busted the operation, it was discovered that these people were tricked into going to New York on the pretense of attending a sign language school and were enslaved to an international criminal syndicate. La Voz De Los Silenciados-The Voice of the Voiceless directed by Maximón Monihan is based on this incident and is the story of 17-year-old Olga,a hearing impaired girl from Guatemala. I caught the film's world premiere at the Mumbai Film Festival (October 17-24) and did an interview with Monihan, lead actor Janeva Adena and producer Sheena Matheiken. I would like to pitch this interview for Bright Lights Film Journal.
The silent film uses a low frequency sound design that helps the audience enter Olga’s headspace and has mostly been shot in black and white. The film was received well in Mumbai and won the Young Critics Jury Award. This is Monihan’s first feature film and most of the cast and crew are first-timers as well. “We knew we were setting up a big hurdle for ourselves by setting up a crazy idea of a silent film and no dialogue. We were more concerned about can we actually pull it off, will it actually work because we don’t have a crew, a budget. They are all friends. Everybody gave up their free time to come and do this. When people are willing to do that then you don’t have a choice, then you just have to do it. It was fun. We felt confident going into it because of that,” says Monihan.
The interview looks at the filmmaking experience, the film’s message, characterisation and sound design. I found the film to have a universal appeal and Olga, with her little quirks, stays with you long after the film has ended.
I am an independent journalist based out of Mumbai, India, and I have written on areas like cinema, development and education. Some of my articles can be found here: https://abc
I would love to know if you think this interview could be used for the Bright Lights Film Journal. I have attached the article with this email.
If there is anything else you may need, please do let me know.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://brightlightsfilm.com/inside-new-yorks-subway-secret-interview-maximon-monihan-janeva-adena-sheena-matheiken-la-voz-de-los-silcenciados-voice-homeless/#.XzrtmugzbIV|
|Architectural Digest||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||tarot cards and spiritual well-being.||600 words||Service||How are you? I hope everything is ok . I have a pitch for Clever about tarot cards and spiritual well-being.|
Tarot card readings are nothing new, but thanks to social media apps like twitter or Instagram, its popularity has grown. You can easily connect on these sites to get your daily read from a train reader. And in recent years, more and more people are buying their own deck to use as self-care as they can use the cards for guidance and for self- awareness. It’s becoming a new trend in spiritual wellness and can be therapeutic for mental health as most people these days can’t afford therapy, but they can afford a deck of tarot cards or turn to social media to get readings from professional tarot card readers when they are having a stressful day. There have been studies that prove that this hobby can’t predict the future, but can offer a better understanding of the universe and your situation that’s going on in your life
In this pitch, I will explain how readers can use tarot cards for their spiritual wellness especially now during the Coronavirus and most are in self-isolation either by learning to do tarot themselves or taking a course or class. I would interview Jessica Dore, who’s not only studying psychology but is also one of the best-known tarot readers on social media and her daily reads give hope to all who read her interpretation. This article would include how to do a daily reading that can give insight to life problems. I would also interweave how I use my daily reads in my life and how it has helped me.
|Web||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/tarot-card-reading-at-home|
|Business Insider||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Story idea: Push to east travel bans for unmarried couples||900 words||Reported||Many stories have been written about couples being separated due to COVID-19, but the situation is particularly difficult for partners who live in different countries. This includes Julia Beate Badsvik, age 30, who lives in Denmark. She met her boyfriend, who is 32, on Tinder while he was in town from Connecticut on a business trip. They’ve been apart since February. Badsvik has become part of what she describes as a “full on political movement” to push for exceptions to travel bans that would reunite long distanced couples living in different countries. There are two active Twitter threads: #loveisnottourism and #loveisessential. There’s also a Facebook group that just gained 200 members within the past five hours and an Instagram campaign. Those pushing this are trying to organize social media campaigns. They’re writing government officials and drafting petitions like this one, which was submitted on June 29th. On Friday, a group of them are heading to the EU parliament to ask them to endorse opening of the borders. “People think that we are being selfish and unsympathetic to people who are losing their loved ones to COVID-19,” Badsvik said. But “it’s damaging to people’s mental health to be separated from their loved ones without knowing if they will see them again.” She said there’s a push for exceptions that allow loved ones in the country in a legal and safe way. She’s fortunate, in that Denmark is the only country that allows its residents to reunite with their partner from outside of the EU. The U.S. allows spouses in, but not unmarried couples.|
There are many whose situations are far worse than Badsvik’s, including an American man who was told he could not be with his terminally ill Danish girlfriend in her last days; he was allowed to travel into the country for her funeral. “We have women in our group that had to give birth all by themselves. Their partner hasn't met their newborn yet,” said Eva Hoornaert, who started the Love Is Not Tourism group. She lives in Belgium and has been separated from her fiancé, who lives in Israel, for over four months. “Meanwhile, plenty of countries are resuming normal activities which are way more dangerous from an epidemiological viewpoint. There's no reason for governments to put these people through this, and the solutions are so simple,” she said. One proposed idea is to have those traveling into countries be tested and quarantine for two weeks.
Corsi Crumpler is currently nine months pregnant and separated from her child’s father due to travel restrictions. She’s American. He’s Irish. She hasn’t seen him since March 8th. “Because of Covid, getting in touch with any officials has been near impossible,” she said. She was told by the American Embassy to book a flight, get a Covid test, prove her pregnancy, and provide more legal documentation, a challenge, since no officials were in the office. After following these directions, they could still not get approval. “Thousands are being kept from their families during this time and there is no finite outline of what exceptions can be made. Does a marriage certificate really make a family a family?” She’s been alone nearly her entire pregnancy and she and her fiancé have spent thousands of dollars trying to get answers. “I have gone through, what should be the happiest time of my life completely alone, stressed, and terrified. Neither of us have kids, This is both of our first. I will labor and deliver alone. If I die in childbirth, I will die alone. And no one seems to care.”
I propose a story that will look into this fast-growing international movement launched by couples separated by international borders. This situation seems to be affecting a huge number of unmarried couples. I would include a range of them, including an LGBT couple, a mixed-race couple and an older couple. I’ll focus on those who are facing different types of circumstances as well. The piece could feature the voices of those who are most active in campaigning for changes to bring them together with their partner. This would, of course, include the perspective from those who believe the travel bans have been instituted to prevent the spread of the virus, and that it would be difficult to make exceptions to reunite these people.
There have been plenty of stories of those who have been separated from each other within the U.S. But I haven’t seen much coverage of this situation which involves couples living in two different countries who face indefinite separations. I think they have important perspectives to offer in the midst of travel bans that would interest your readers.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.businessinsider.com/unmarried-couples-separated-borders-social-media-petitions-fight-travel-bans-2020-7||This was a seamless and straightforward process. I pitched the story. They liked it. I wrote it and there weren't any significant modifications. I had done quite a bit of research in advance of pitching it, as you can see from the length of the pitch. I think the editors appreciated that. It was fully fleshed out.|
|Business Insider||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Story idea: Tutoring services surge amidst COVID-19||900 words||Reported||While COVID-19 has hit most sectors hard, there is one segment of the economy that is booming: companies offering tutoring services. As parents grow concerned about the quality of a hastily assembled online education – one that could continue, at least in part, into the fall – those who can afford it are hiring tutors from private companies. Numerous reports tracking the industry, including this one and another by 3W Market News Reports, show exponential growth. Tutor Doctor, which has an online platform, is one of them. The company is already seeing a 120 percent increase in demand for online tutoring since the outbreak. "We've already begun to see our online tutors and our platform being used by students and families due to travel quarantines" said Frank Milner, President of Tutor Doctor. Miles Hunter, co-founder and CEO of TutorMe has seen “an incredible surge” – nearly three times as much demand as the same period last year. TutorMe has a page on its website devoted to how it will help fill the educational gap amidst COVID-19.|
A May report by Princeton Review and Tutor.com documented increases in services provided by both those companies. Princeton Review provided tutoring services to 27% more students than during the same period a year earlier, according to Rob Franek, Editor-in-Chief of The Princeton Review. Business at Tutor.com, the largest online tutoring service in the U.S., has skyrocketed, said Sandi White, its Vice President and General Manager for Institutional Programs. Between May 1 and May 6, the company's tutors serviced 31,148 sessions, 69.1% more than the 18,364 serviced in first week of May in 2019. It is projected to double the number of new tutors it hires to meet rising demand for its services now and in the months ahead.
I propose a story that explores the ways that tutoring companies are flourishing in the midst of an uncertain educational future for students in grades K through 12. I could discuss the trends and the strategies they are using to meet the new demands and the ways that some companies are trying to distinguish themselves among an already crowded market. And I could include the voices of the parents who are using them. The piece could also discuss the way that this situation is further widening the achievement gap. Many of these services are expensive, giving an advantage to parents who can afford them, while those who cannot will be part of a new experiment in hastily assembled distance learning. I’d include comments from education experts about the potential repercussions as well.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.businessinsider.com/private-tutoring-companies-demand-services-increase-online-learning-2020-7||It was a very straightforward pitch and the final story closely resembled it.|
|The New York Times Magazine||To an editor/publication you had other connection to||>2000 words||Profile, Reported, Narrative||Earlier this year, single mother of seven Laurie Bertram Roberts spent $12,000 on the down payment for a house in Mississippi. It's a bit dilapidated, with peeling paint, an overgrown lawn, old windows, and a squatter she had to evict. She's not going to live in it, or flip it, or raze and rebuild it. She's going to use it to help people get abortions in a state with some of the country's strictest regulations (including a 20-week ban like the one the House just voted to approve).|
Bertram Roberts is the founder of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, Mississippi's only abortion fund, and she plans to remodel the house into a pro-choice answer to the crisis pregnancy centers that blossomed in post-Tea Party America. MRFF is similar to other abortion funds in many ways — since 2015, it's helped patients pay for abortions, find transportation to clinics, get interpreters, and generally make a difficult journey easier — but no other fund has yet bought property.
The fund's co-founders are two of Roberts's daughters, who are now 19 and 20. One of them, having had an abortion as a teenager, is now an abortion doula walking clients through the procedure; Mississippi has the second-highest teen pregnancy rate in the US, so nearly half of MRFF's clients are teens. And almost all of the staff, Roberts included, are black women from low-income backgrounds, since that's the demographic MRFF serves. "When we were looking for a house I went for one in the hood," Roberts said when I spoke to her this summer. "Because all the antis in town" — the anti-abortion protestors who keep constant, aggressive vigil over nearby Jackson Women's Health, the state's only abortion clinic — "are white, and they'd be too scared to come here to harass our clients."
She got the idea to buy a house from Cooperation Jackson, a local racial justice cooperative that bought a house last year to turn it into an educational and job training center. Her own rough gem has plenty of space to build out a daycare center and multiple classrooms, where MRFF volunteers will teach the full spectrum of reproductive health: contraception education for local high school students (Mississippi mandates abstinence-only sex ed), and pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding courses for parents. "Jackson already has those, but they're at the hospitals, which are all Catholic," Roberts told me. "And on top of that all the instructors are middle-class white folks who don't understand our clients' lives. I didn't want to go there when I was pregnant, and our clients don't feel comfortable, either." It's this for-us-by-us philosophy that's helped MRFF survive despite low funding and an all-volunteer staff composed mostly of former clients.
Funds like this began appearing shortly after the 1976 passage of the Hyde Amendment, and proliferated as anti-abortion activists refocused their tactics on restricting access to the procedure rather than banning it outright. There is now at least one abortion fund in every state, and at least 70 nationwide. But as activists and legislators continue to widen the gap between the legal status of abortion and patients' ability to access it, pro-choice organizations have to get more creative, and MRFF's unusual, hyper-local approach offers a glimpse of the front line in the battle for access. For this feature, I'd spend a week in Jackson as Roberts remodels to tell for the first time the story of the fund's founding, its modest but steady growth, and the new way it's addressing this health crisis. Laurie has agreed to grant me exclusive full access to her organization, including staff and former clients, as well as a connection to the clinic. No outlet has yet covered MRFF, and the only upcoming coverage is a very different piece — a ride-along with an abortion patient, written for Cosmo by an MRFF member, coming out this winter.
I'd also look at these funds as a nationwide phenomenon. Funds are independent, but they ways they collaborate — most often in the form of transporting patients across state lines — highlights the discrepancies between different jurisdictions. (The same goes for different socioeconomic classes: even in deeply pro-choice states like California and New York, funds are working against high-cost procedures and a scarcity of clinics outside cities.) I have yet to find a story that really looks into this history and ties together different funds. So I’d also speak with people from funds that MRFF has collaborated with; leaders from the National Network of Abortion Funds, an umbrella organization that raises awareness and funds for individual organizations; and national organizations like NARAL or NOW. Funds are a pretty radical solution — they literally pay for abortions and come from the "on demand, without apology" tradition — which distances them from organizations that work with politicians, so there might be some tension to report there as well.
|Print, Web, Stayed as pitched||3+ emails from editor||https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/13/magazine/abortion-mississippi.html|
|The New York Times||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Story idea: Traveling to the desert in the summer||900 words||Reported||Heading To a Vacation Destination Where it's 110 degrees|
My youngest child just graduated from college in May. I was dreading the prospect of her immediately leaving the nest. She seemed eager to start a job at a big city far from where she was raised. But fate intervened in my favor. She won a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in France -- and it doesn’t start until September. She chose to spend the next few months working and living at home to save money. I refer to this as my “bonus summer.” She’s my youngest and my husband and I have a few more months of time to cherish with her. I wanted to do something special to celebrate her graduation and my sister, a school teacher with summers off, was all in. We initially thought a spa weekend sounded wonderful. But when we started pricing spas, we got sticker shock; the established retreats like Canyon Ranch were incredibly expensive. We craved a luxurious atmosphere but didn't want to swallow the steep price tag.
My sister got an idea. If it was luxury we craved, why not stay at a nice hotel in a place that’s eager to attract tourists in the summer? After researching a variety of options, we realized there were some great deals to be found at resorts located in warm destinations. We decided on The Andaz in Scottsdale, Arizona. We are paying a mere $224 a night for a summer package that includes four cocktails a day, a waived resort fee, a full breakfast, free parking and 25% off spa services. During the winter months, the hotel fee is typically triple that amount and doesn't include any of those amenities; the resort fee alone is $40 a day. We'll be able to create our own spa experience while taking classes in cocktail making and practicing yoga by the pool, then getting spa treatments at the resort spa.
Not far away at The Biltmore, rooms that typically go for $600 a night are being offered for the same range as The Andaz. At Naples Grande Beach Resort, located ocean side, a room can be had for $239, far less than during the winter months.
Why are there such great deals at top resorts? Let's just say tourists aren't clamoring to bake in the sweltering temperatures. But we plan to hike the beautiful mountains early, then spend much of our time lounging by one of the three pools.
I propose an article that will feature some of the most economical deals you can get at resorts during the summer months. I could feature a few, and make our vacation the focal point, describing the experience there. The Andaz has been rated as one of the top resorts in the Southwest on the Conde Nast Traveler 2018 Readers' Choice Awards and made Travel + Leisure's 2018 “It List.” I think an article focused on ways to take advantage of a resort vacation at a price that doesn't break the bank would be of great interest to your readers who don’t shy away from embracing summer’s sizzling temperatures.
I appreciate you considering the idea.
|Print, Web, Changed a little from pitch||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/02/travel/desert-resorts-summer-deals.html||This was a situation where the novel idea of getting deals for summer travel in brutally hot locations resonated with the editor. I also targeted it to the appropriate section, the Frugal Traveler.|
|AAA Via||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||PITCH: How to Pack a Cooler for a Road Trip||600 words||Service||Hi ________!|
You've been driving for hours and finally arrive at a secluded campground. You park the car and open the cooler to grab a cold drink, some chips, and guac before setting up the tent. When you open the cooler lid, the contents are swimming in lukewarm water. Nothing is cold and everything is wet.
Cooler soup can ruin a road trip or at least dampen the mood. I am experienced in packing coolers and would love to share my expertise with people as they come out of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and rely on road trips for a sense of freedom. I have been a writer for the outdoor industry for 6 years and worked in retail at a camping store.
Here is some of my work in the outdoor industry:
*insert links here*
I would love to chat on the phone if you are interested in discussing this idea further.
Thank you for your consideration.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://calstate.aaa.com/via/eat-drink/how-pack-cooler-road-trip||This pitch immediately felt like it would get picked up and it did! Trust your instincts. Make people feel something and relate.|
|Wired Magazine||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||FEATURE PITCH: Tech Wave - How Tsunami Clusters and Social Media are Transforming Wave Science||>2000 words||Reported||“OK, fire!” |
Three beeps count down to a deep boom that reverberates through the gymnasium-sized building in rural Oregon. Inside a shallow pool half the size of a football field, an underwater explosion swells to the surface as giant waves radiate toward the artificial concrete shoreline.
I’m standing inside the Hinsdale Wave Laboratory, home to the world’s largest tsunami basin, with Hermann Fritz, a renowned tsunami scientist from Georgia Tech University. We’re 50 miles away from any coastline, but Fritz has come here to study exactly how submarine volcanoes can trigger tsunamis.
Not unlike those who pursue tornadoes in pick-up trucks, Fritz is a tsunami chaser. He’s traveled the world to study the aftermath of history’s deadliest waves: Indian Ocean 2004. Chile 2010. Japan 2011. When there’s not much to survey in the field, he returns here to model what he’s gleaned from interviews with survivors, studying trigger sources, and, more recently, social media.
“Tsunami research has advanced tremendously,” he explains from inside the basin, as the waves steadily dissipate. Following the 1964 tsunami in coastal Alaska, very few giant waves washed ashore. “You had this 40-year-gap where the general public forgot about tsunamis.” People had no clue what they even looked like. The Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 permanently changed that.
When the tsunami hit, it killed more than 200,000 people and displaced another 1.75 million throughout Southeast Asia. But it also afforded scientists the opportunity to study the enigmatic natural disasters in detail—thanks, in large part, to the advent of home video.
Tourists armed with bulky camcorders captured the first-ever footage of a tsunami triggered by a 9.0 earthquake. Many puzzled over the strange recession of water, running toward the beach, not away. They struggled to put what they were seeing into words. Then, all too suddenly, the water came rushing back. Fritz adds that the wave most of us watched on CNN wasn’t even the biggest one—the tsunami hit other parts much harder, “but nobody survived it.”
Seven years later when a tsunami slammed into Tōhoku, Japan, everyone had a smartphone. People recorded the wave, which topped 130 feet in some parts, in high-def from high-rises. Fritz and his colleagues took that footage and incorporated it into their studies, triangulating the information with lab and computer models and field surveys to figure out how water flowed between buildings and down streets.
The hope is that by figuring out how and when tsunamis are generated, and how they move, engineers can improve evacuation planning and early warning systems. After 2011, Fritz tells me on this July day, the tsunami clusters have seemingly died off. That’s why he’s back at the lab.
“This is probably one of the most exotic tsunami experiments I’ve done,” he explains. His previous project looked at landslides and required shoveling heaps of debris into the pool. But those only account for 10 percent of all tsunamis around the world.
“Volcanoes are even rarer. But they’re some of the deadliest.”
On December 22, five months after my first (ultimately prophetic) interview in Oregon with Fritz, Indonesia’s Anak Kraktau—the Child of Krakatoa—volcano began to collapse. Debris cascaded into the narrow Sunda Strait, triggering a tsunami that washed over coastal areas of Java and Sumatra, killing 437 people and injuring another 14,000. Locals filming an open-air concert near the beach captured the silent wave inundating the band’s set, violently sweeping people away.
The next day, surveyors discovered that most of the island of Anak Krakatau had collapsed into the sea. There was no warning system in place for a volcanic eruption, and volcano/landslide-triggered tsunamis come with very little seismic warning.
According to experts, another tsunami cluster has begun. (In September, a tsunami hit West Java following a large earthquake in the region.)
This would be a feature story exploring the sweeping advances in tsunami science that were born out of the 2004-2011 cluster and subsequent rise of personal technology, rooted in an exploration of the two more recent tsunamis. As Harry Yeh, one of the world’s foremost tsunami scientists put it to me, “I am probably one of three or four people who have studied tsunamis since the 1980s. After 2004, I was no longer an ‘expert’ because so many people got involved.”
The story would meet tsunami chasers like Fritz who travel the world investigating how tsunamis work, and interview locals impacted by these events. We’d visit the tsunami lab in Oregon, then travel to Indonesia. Fritz has invited me on his expedition there this spring to study the affected islands and formation of the Anak Krakatau tsunami—an incredibly rare event. There have only been a handful of volcano-triggered tsunamis in recoded history. The resulting piece would be a unique and exciting look at the first-scientific responders to giant wave events. Most media stories focus on warning systems alone, without looking at the research driving their implementation and adaptation.
My work appears in National Geographic, The Atlantic, The Guardian, VICE, BioGraphic, Outside, Pacific Standard, Yale Environment 360, and High Country News magazine, among others.
|Print, Changed a little from pitch||3+ emails from editor||https://www.wired.com/story/amateur-video-helping-understand-deadly-tsunamis/|
|Public Radio International's The World||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||PITCH: iCloud: How Scientists are Changing the Weather in Peru||1500 words||Reported||How do you make clouds suddenly disappear? Sunny days aside, what may seem like the question of a love-sick 1950s melody is actually one of science. |
Last year, at a remote research site along the border of Peru’s Manu National Park, researchers erected a gigantic green curtain over the forest canopy in an effort to simulate the predicted changes to cloud cover under a warming climate. A spectacular array of tropical plants grows under the curtain’s shadow, and biologists have been busy studying how fewer clouds might impact this floral community. The experiment, funded by Swedish government agencies, is part of a growing global effort to understand how climate change will impact the world’s cloud forests.
Cloud forests are exceedingly rare, making up just one percent of Earth’s total forests. They can be found at altitudes between 1,300 and 9,200 feet in countries along the equator, such as Peru and Ecuador, as well as in the jungles of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean. These uniques forests are created when warm, wet air rises up the through the mountainside, rapidly cooling off and condensing into fluffy clouds that float through the forest canopy, providing the entire ecosystem with its daily moisture. Some plants, like tree-bound bromeliads, have adapted to source all of their water from the clouds, appearing to grow out of the sky. Unsurprisingly, cloud forests serve as a biological hotspot, home to a multitude of endemic species. In Peru, more than one-third of the country's 270 endemic species can be found in the cloud forests.
But decades of deforestation have reduced cloud forest cover to just a fraction of what it once was. Climate change threatens to drive it down even further. As the climate warms, scientists predict that cloud levels will rise higher, perhaps only drifting through a narrow slice of forest. If that happens, animals and plants will be forced to migrate upslope, chasing moisture. But many fear that they won’t be able to move fast enough.
Though the impacts of climate change on regions like the Arctic and Amazon have been well studied, in comparison relatively little research has been done on the cloud forest. Scientists, like those here at the Wayqecha Biological Station in Peru, are hoping to change that.
I propose a 1,000-word story looking at the effort to understand how climate change will impact cloud forests, centering on the “cloud exclusion” project in Peru. I’ll interview people like Roxy Cruz, a PhD student at UC-Berkeley using the curtain to understand climate change’s impact on woody plant species who I met at Wayqecha (she’s part of the same lab that studied the impact of climate change on giant sequoias/redwoods). I’ll also interview Miles Silman, a professor of conservation biology at Wake Forest University who has been involved with this project. And I’ll speak with researchers at the Andes Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Group. This summer, I spent four days at Wayqecha hiking in the area, and prior to that spent three weeks trekking in the cloud forests of Ecuador to learn about the challenges facing the region. I’ll include these colorful descriptions in my report (I've also attached a few photos from Peru).
My reporting appears in The Guardian, National Geographic, Wired Magazine, HuffPost, Pacific Standard, Yale Environment 360 and Mongabay, among others.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.pri.org/stories/2020-01-21/these-scientists-created-cloud-curtain-peru-s-tropical-forests-mimic-future|
|High Country News||To an editor/publication you had other connection to, From a pitch call on twitter or other public forum, I met the editor at a conference.||Query: preparing for sea level rise in the San Francisco Bay||900 words||Reported, Scoop or timely news||Great to meet you at AGU and I'm excited to pitch a story for your summer special issue on systems! |
Ready or Not
Why it's so hard to prepare for sea level rise in the San Francisco Bay
Sea level rise already threatens the San Francisco Bay shore, which at about 500 miles is half as long as the entire California coast, and the worst is yet to come. But fragmented governance is thwarting efforts to prepare for this disaster. Most land-use decisions are local, and more than one hundred municipalities ring the bay. Coordinating their sea level rise planning is critical because fixes in one area can shift flooding elsewhere, jeopardizing unprotected highways and mass transit, sewage treatment plants, and low-income neighborhoods along the waterfront. In a 2019 survey, Mark Lubell, director of the University of California, Davis Center for Environmental Policy & Behavior, found that Bay Area leaders know they need to address sea level rise but disagree on best ways to actually do it. They overwhelmingly cited the lack of a regional plan as the biggest barrier to addressing this problem. At a recent conference session on this predicament, local leaders reinforced Lubell's conclusions, with one commenting, "Everybody's involved, no one is in charge." That said, they also stressed that none of them wants to be in charge. Meanwhile, the water keeps rising, shrinking the window for implementing solutions.
I think this story will resonate with HCN readers, many of whom likely face similar collective action challenges posed by institutional systems in their work or communities. I propose to tell your readers how the lack of regional governance hinders planning for sea level rise in the San Francisco Bay Area, reasons for reluctance to take the lead on this vital issue, and possibilities for moving forward. This story could be told as a reported analysis of Lubell's work and the perspectives of those tasked with preparing for sea level rise in the region, or as a feature that brings the issue to life by highlighting vulnerable spots – and people – around the bay. I would be happy to take the approach that best meets your needs.
I am a good person to tell this story because I have reported on water and governance issues in the San Francisco Bay Area intensively over the last five years, and am deeply familiar with the issues and players. In addition, I live in the region and know first-hand how high the stakes are.
Below are a few relevant examples of my work (two that explore regional solutions, and a feature); you can learn more about me here and can see more of my stories here.
Conservation Before Construction: Bay Area Pilots New State Program (Bay Area Monitor 2019)
Wildlife and Way of Life in the North Delta? (San Francisco Estuary News 2019)
Raised in Rice Fields (bioGraphic 2019)
Please let me know if you are interested in this story – I would love to write it for you and would also love to work with you!
|Print, Web, Changed significantly from pitch, This turned out to be a fast-moving story with big news between my pitch and its acceptance.||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.hcn.org/issues/52.7/south-climate-change-bay-area-towns-need-to-address-sea-level-rise-will-they||Terrific experience - collaborative story development, clear expectations, sharp editing, smooth process, and prompt payment. I'm now writing a second story for HCN.|
|Washinton Post (Health section)||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Prosthetics powered by thought||900 words||Reported||For a prosthetic limb to function as though it were a part of your own body is the holy grail for developers of human prostheses. Mind-controlled prosthetics are already real, where brain implants are used to send sensations to a robotic limb, much like how neurons transmit messages from brain to muscle. But this means brain surgery and all the attendant risks, not to mention the expense and recovery time. Non-invasive brain–computer interfaces (BCI), on the other hand, have been found to be slow to decode neural signals from the brain reliably, resulting in erratic movements. This might be about to change.|
A number of new developments give hope. A team from Carnegie Mellon University claim to have developed the first ever non-invasive robotic arm controlled by the wearer's mind, which only requires the wearer to strap on an EEG cap. For amputees or paralysed patients who might have already been through trauma and complex surgical procedures, a robotic prosthesis of this sort will make a marked difference in recovery and quality of life.
Another study, this one at the University of Houston, is looking at the BCI as a form of artificial intelligence, that is, a prosthetic that can sense from neuron activity what a user wants to do (such as, intend to pick up a glass) and then do it. This determination of "intention" from neural activity is a major step towards the autonomy of robotic prosthetics, potentially leading to the development of robotic limbs that learn and adapt on their own, led by the user's needs.
Yet another recent study from Stanford's electrical engineering lab reports a new and "vastly simpler way to study the brain's electrical activity". This has implications in developing super-compact, low-powered and wireless brain sensors to make thought-controlled prosthetics work better.
Plus, there's Elon Musk's new BCI, and a few others. Based on these developments, I'd like to do a story on the future of robotic prosthetics. Some questions I seek to answer are: what do these new developments mean? When (if they do) will they translate into actual prosthetics for human use? What level of control and capabilities are we looking at (that is, would we have the ability to develop and use super-powered prosthetics, for instance)? And, given the scope, word count, and deadline, what that might mean for the human condition -- are we looking at human/robot hybrids, for instance?
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/new-prosthetic-limbs-go-beyond-the-functional-to-allow-people-to-feel-again/2019/12/13/ac2fac10-d4ca-11e9-86ac-0f250cc91758_story.html||Led to a relationship with the editor and acceptance of future pitches.|
|The Nation||From a pitch call on twitter or other public forum||Women's sport holds the blueprint for a more inclusive future||1500 words||Trend, Opinion||This is in response to your tweet about looking for pitches for The Nation. Congratulations on the new position, by the way. Could I interest you in an opinion piece on how women's sport might hold the blueprint for a more inclusive future?|
Thinking back to the FIFA Women’s World Cup this year, there were more than 40 openly gay players and coaches competing alongside their straight counterparts. This is not counting all the closeted players (three of the participating nations, Cameroon, Jamaica, and Nigeria, criminalize homosexuality). In contrast, the men’s tournament, played a year ago, featured a grand total of zero out players. Statistically, it is highly unlikely that there is not a single gay man in top-tier football. (Since then, the Australian soccer player Andy Brennan has come out.)
This reflects the hyper-masculine and homophobic nature of male sports in general, where homophobia is crucial to the definition of masculinity. Across sports, across the world, out sportspersons are mostly women. Perhaps, then, we should to look at what women's sport is doing right and see if the lessons can be applied to embrace greater diversity in general. In order to do so, we would also be unpacking the damage caused bythe toxic masculinity of men's/boys' sport.
In this piece, I would be bringing in some personal experience, about how sport helped me find a me-shaped hole in this world. As a cricketer in university (in New Delhi, India, more than 20 years ago), there were a significant number of players who were definitely gay or at least questioning. While there was a silence around the larger question of sexuality or gender identity (it was a far more conservative world back then, with an iffy law that criminalised gay sex, even though it applied largely to men), it was the first time I saw other young women who were 'like me', that is, butch.
They wore their identities with an ease that made it, at the same time, intimidating and empowering for me, who didn't, and who also had to battle crippling social anxiety on top of that. But I would stick my neck out and say that out on the field was the one place these girls could actually express themselves, the physical-ness of sport was an outlet in that very limiting, conservative world. I found that to be true for myself at least. And I'm sure this holds around the world, given that sport or playing outdoors is predominantly seen as something that boys do.
|Web||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.thenation.com/article/women-sports-lgbtq-homophobia/|
|The Independent||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||Delhi violence and its aftermath12||600 words||Reported||Hope all's well with you. As you must know, in the last few days of February, a pogrom targeting Muslims in a relatively impoverished, densely populated locality in Delhi caused death, destruction, loss of livelihood, and trauma. I've been a relief volunteer, on the ground at relief camps and distribution centres, interacting with locals and other relief programmes, and there are plenty of stories around what is happening in north-east Delhi.|
Till date, no political party has come out with a statement unconditionally condeming the violence. In fact, there is overwhelming evidence of the collusion of the police and state machinery in the "riots". Muslim youth are still being picked up by the police randomly. Even in the case of relief work, a vast majority of it has been initiated and being continued by civil society. Relief camps (set up by locals but now supported, to an extent, by the government) are overcrowded and there is a real risk of an outbreak of COVID-19.
A couple of interesting angles are:
1. The relief work itself, largely fuelled by citizens' efforts, and happening in an organic and decentralised manner. There are advantages and disadvantages of this, of course.
2. The long-term aftermath -- the fear and distrust in the community; the loss of livelihoods and how that will manifest; the risk of a coronavirus outbreak; etc.
This this is a very time-sensitive subject, I would really appreciate a quick response.
|Web||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/india-delhi-riots-coronavirus-new-modi-deaths-cases-a9403131.html|
|Input Mag||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Fix-it fiction: how queer women use the internet to take back their stories||>2000 words||Essay, Reported||A somewhat unusual intersection of technology and culture—how the internet has been enabling a little-known cultural phenomenon called "fix-it fiction" whereby queer women have been reclaiming their stories from popular culture.|
Gays are particularly hard done by in the fictional worlds of television, and women even more so. As figures and reports from GLAAD, Autostraddle and the like testify, lesbians are disproportionately likely to be harmed, including being killed or injured; break up; or be visited by some other kind of tragedy that calls for a sacrifice of a personal nature. However, queer women have been steadily correcting this injustice as fast as it happens—in the annals of fix-it fiction—and the internet has been enabling this.
Fix-it fic is a subgenre of fan-fiction where writers write 'fix' the stories that went wrong. In lesbian lore, it manifests as correcting the biases of show makers, and/or giving queer women the happy endings they deserve. Research shows that television stories with LGBTQ representations have mental health benefits for LGBTQ folk, and therefore, when these stories have negative outcomes, there is a concomitant harm. Writing fan-fiction where these negative outcomes are ‘corrected’ can help mitigate these adverse effects to a small but important extent.
In doing so, writers and readers of this media, have also created online communities that often double as queer support groups. Lasting friendships have formed in these fandoms; romance has bloomed as well!
I was a late bloomer as a fan-fic reader, and only very recently understood its disruptive nature. I wrote an essay on this for Open Magazine (https://openthemagazine.com/lounge/books/the-new-word-order/), on how fan-fiction has emerged as an unlikely battleground for female liberation. In the current piece I’m pitching, I’d like to zero in on fix-it fiction, and it’s particular role in catharsis and closure for women-loving women. I've also written about the representation of queer women and the importance of the same:
1. Own voices (The Independent): https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/holby-city-eastenders-bernie-wolfe-lesbians-gay-characters-death-lgbt-pride-a9037831.html
2. Sport and queer women (The Nation): https://www.thenation.com/article/women-sports-lgbtq-homophobia/
3. Gentleman Jack and framing of identity (The Independent): https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/gentleman-jack-anne-lister-lgbt-queer-suranne-jones-a8940886.html
4. Letting down a fandom (Diva): https://divamag.co.uk/2018/12/21/opinion-a-shipwreck-called-berena/
As a freelance writer on technology and culture for over two decades, I am particularly interested in the spaces where these two converge. One of these convergences is how stories are told and heard, the internet having opened up possibilities that didn't exist even a decade ago.
|Web||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.inputmag.com/culture/tv-lesbians-fix-it-fiction-fanfic|
|Slate||From a pitch call on twitter or other public forum||Will the COVID19 crisis turn India into a surveillance state?||900 words||Reported||With reference to your tweet seeking pitches for FutureTense on privacy and the pandemic, I wanted to check if you'd be interested in a story from India. With our lockdown being extended to 3 May, civil liberties activists fear that it might be the perfect opportunity for the right-wing government to consolidate on their surveillance ambitions, particularly with a mission to target minorities. (Already, India has seen an increase in Islamophobic violence related to the pandemic, thanks to the ruling party's secret-but-not-so-secret IT cell that distributes fake news on social media, but that's a whole different story altogether.)|
At this point, various tech deployments and surveillance responses to COVID19 come with no regulatory frameworks or data protection laws in place. The government's own contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu is opaque about policies relating to information collection, purpose limitation, data storage, and so on. There is no clarity on who will have access to the information, how long it will be kept, about the privacy of individual data, and so on. This is in addition to the additional surveillance technologies, like using mobile phone location data, CCTV cameras, facial recognition, and so on (remember, no data protection laws!).
Over the past few years, India has been seeing an unbridled drive towards digitalization, automation, and surveillance in the name of security, and the COVID19 crisis has added a new layer to this, one that digital liberties activists say could have far-reaching humanitarian, social, and economic consequences. Before the pandemic, activists have been tussling with the government for years about the biometric ID project called Aadhaar. This is a unique 12-digit number that the authorities want to assign to every Indian citizen, tied to their fingerprints and retinal scans.
Introduced as a tool to weed out illegal subsidy transfers and cut down on corruption, an alarming scope creep of Aadhaar finds it being linked -- often without consent -- to mobile phone connections, bank accounts, income tax identity numbers, pension schemes, passports, electoral IDs, and more. There is widespread evidence that the Aadhaar database is compromised, resulting in millions of fake accounts, many instances of Aadhaar-enabled fraud, misdirection of welfare schemes (including cases where people have died due to not being able to get food rations via the Public Distributions System that guarantees minimum rations to low-income Indians), and even misuse by the state to target minorities (such as, removing them from electoral rolls). A variety of private corporations have paid high fees to access the Aadhaar database, along with the biometric data of enrolled Indians. But I digress...
In my piece, I would like to focus on India's concerted efforts to deploy surveillance technologies without laws, regulatory frameworks, informed consent, or any sort of general transparency, now with the added complication of the COVID19 crisis built in, and the humanitarian cost this could have. I will be speaking to individuals and organizations working to push for substantive open dialolgue about these technologies; and compare the experiences of other countries that have grappled with mass surveillance technologies.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://slate.com/technology/2020/05/covid19-india-surveillance-aarogya-setu.html|
|Gothamist||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Pitch — Getting stimulus $ when you're homeless||1500 words||Reported||About 80 million Americans have checked their bank accounts this week to find a newly arrived payment from the U.S. Treasury. But for the homeless, getting the relief they’re entitled to is likely not as simple as waiting on a deposit to clear. |
Not earning enough to file taxes, lacking a permanent address and being un-banked are all common for homeless New Yorkers, and all factors that complicate the process of receiving the stimulus funds. A lack of internet and/or computer access, coupled with shuttered libraries and social service offices, also present hurdles to getting the money for those who need it most.
Forty-eight-year-old Marcus Moore has been homeless on and off for most of his adult life. He was recently kicked out of an abandoned building in Brooklyn where he had been “homesteading” for four years and spent a couple months on the street before Manhattan-based advocacy group Picture the Homeless raised enough to book him a hotel during the pandemic.
Most days, Moore puts on a mask and gloves, hops on his bike and makes Doordash deliveries. He says he worries about being exposed to the virus, but that continuing to work makes him feel useful during the crisis.
“If I’m unable to move, I would want somebody to come by and drop me off a bag of goodies so I can be alright,” Moore said.
Despite this and other gig work, Moore has earned under the threshold that would prompt him to file a tax return for the past two years. To receive his $1,200, he will have to fill out the IRS’ recently released non-tax-filer form, a task he says he’s been struggling to complete on his cellphone, the only device he has access to.
Moore would normally go into the PTH office to get something like this done, but the office is now in the process of closing due to the coronavirus outbreak.
I've spoken to local homeless advocates at PTH and elsewhere who say their organizations are busy addressing the most basic needs during the crisis, and that connecting clients with stimulus rebates is necessarily falling by the wayside for now. I would like to write a story for Gothamist about the impediments to claiming the rebates for homeless New Yorkers, centering on Marcus and incorporating interviews with advocates at PTH and the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Let me know if this is of interest to you.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://gothamist.com/news/pandemic-stimulus-checks-hard-come-new-yorkers-who-need-them-most|
|Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||>2000 words||Reported, Scoop or timely news||70 percent of detainees at ICA-Farmville, a for-profit ICE detention center in Virginia, have contracted the coronavirus — the worst outbreak at any ICE detention center, according to the agency's figures. I'm proposing a piece on this particular detention center, which serves as a powerful example of how corporations and cities profit from private detention, and the ways private prisons have fueled severe coronavirus outbreaks.|
Ten years ago, the town of Farmville contracted with the private firm Immigration Centers of America to open a new jail. Reports of rampant abuse in the center have surfaced again and again over the last decade. Federal civil liberties investigations have been opened. A severe mumps outbreak just last year foreshadowed the facility's vulnerability to a contagious virus. To me, the case of Farmville illustrates that the dangers of detention centers have long been obvious, to the public and to our government.
What's particularly interesting to me about the case of Farmville, though, is a recent investigation of the facility by the advocacy group National Immigrant Justice Center, which revealed chilling details about how cities and towns profit off of mass incarceration. Documents the group obtained from ICE reveal unfeeling discussions of how much money the detention company would receive for new detainees. Numbers show that the town of Farmville has raked in tens of thousands of dollars from its contract with ICA, which stipulates that the town gets a cut of the profits. This piece would explore how various features of for-profit detention (like per-resident payments and in-country transfers of detainees) have facilitated the spread of coronavirus in ICE detention centers.
I've lived in the DC area for years, and am well-connected to local advocacy groups working on this issue. The piece will feature interviews from lawyers and organizers with CAIR Coalition, Sanctuary DMV, and others.
|Web, Stayed as pitched||1-2 emails from editor|
|Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Query letter - story idea on microbes and children's health||900 words||Reported, Service||Healthy Microbes, Healthy Kids|
Parents’ number-one concern is the health of their children, and when they hear “bacteria” most parents fly into defense mode. Yet exposure to various types of beneficial bacteria can influence children’s developmental, immunological, and overall health in their infant and early-childhood years.
I’d like to propose an article that explains how children’s microbial health can be maintained through a variety of simple practices and why it’s key to do so.
Around the house, pets’ microbe-filled hair and dander can train young children’s immune systems to fend off allergens and bugs. Children taking antibiotics for ear infections or other conditions can take a child-friendly probiotic supplement to repopulate the healthy gut microbes ravaged by the antibiotic. For cleaning, alcohol- or bleach-based cleaners won’t impede regrowth of good bacteria, as with some antibacterial products. The article can explain how to ensure microbial balance while still being hygienic and has plenty of potential sidebar topics.
To expand on the above information, I would conduct interviews with pediatricians, microbiologists, or other health professionals. I’ve written health and wellness service pieces—as well as other types of stories—for various outlets.
|Print, Web||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.pnmag.com/mom-baby/baby-care/microbe-management/|
|Maisonneuve||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Pitch: Land Grabbers||>2000 words||Reported||Dear [editor's name]|
I hope this finds you well in the new year. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is James Patterson. I am an emerging writer from Manitoba working in both fiction and non-fiction. I would like to pitch my article "Land Grabbers".
A few years ago, a rumor swept through the Canadian prairies near my home like wildfire. The story went that a young, attractive couple was in the area looking to buy a farm and begin a new life. They visited a small farm run by older men who was disinclined to sell to the large industrialized farms that bordered his land. Seeing this young hopeful couple, he decided to sell, convinced that he had found someone to continue on his legacy and maintain the use of his farmyard had lived his entire life. However, days after the sale was finalized and the old man had moved, bulldozers moved in and began to level the farmyard to expand the neighbor's field. The young couple had had no intention to farm at all. They had been brought in as a ringer – paid a fee to sweet talk the old man out of his land only to pass on their property on to the neighbor for a profit.
Perhaps most often associated with the Amazon, where vast swaths of land are purchased under false pretenses for profit, land grabbing has also become a de-facto process on the prairies, where large tracts of cheap land are bought up by speculators, pension funds, unions, and investors who hope to turn a tidy profit on their purchase. In my local area of Manitoba, land prices have been through the roof, where a single acre can sell for as much as $3,000. The result has been a snowball effect, where only the largest farms can offer the most capital to borrow the money needed to purchase more land. The amassment of large swaths of land into “super farms” (some of which, according to a University of Manitoba study, are over 100,000 acres in size) has had destructive effects on local communities and families, helping to empty to prairies of opportunities for young people.
In my article, I want to examine the beginnings – what led to this land grabbing phenomenon sweeping across the prairies, and what might usher in its end. I will talk to researchers who have studied this phenomenon as well as local farmers and ranchers who have been subjected to the financial pressures placed on their and their children’s future in agriculture.
I feel uniquely placed to write this article. I was born on a cattle and grain farm in rural Manitoba, Canada and worked alongside my father and other farmers for many years. Although I have turned to writing and no longer work on the farm, I still maintain close connections to that community. My writing can be found in World Literature Today, Overland Magazine, and Wanderlust Journal among others. Some published clips can be found here:
Thank you for your time.
|Print, Stayed as pitched, Cover Story||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://maisonneuve.org/article/2020/09/17/bought-farm/||Covid-19 pushed the run time of this piece back by 3 months, but it was a great editorial experience. I'd recommend anyone with a Canadian connection pitch them.|
|Subaru Drive||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Pitch: We're Ditching Our Lawn For Green Infrastructure at Home||900 words||Essay, Reported||Megan and Marissa,|
Grass isn’t “green,” it’s wasteful. It costs time, money, and energy. It's an endless cycle of planting, watering, and cutting. And you have to wonder, is it worth it? My husband and I don’t think so. We’re transforming our quarter-acre suburban lot into a paradise for the birds, the bees, our dog, and our four-year-old son. We’re practicing green infrastructure at home.
In a reported essay, I’d like to bring readers along on our journey through planting pollinator gardens, installing rail barrels, and learning how our trees mitigate stormwater runoff, all while providing data as to exactly why it is important to human health and better for the environment. Don’t worry, we still leave green space to run and play - because that’s important, too. Spoiler alert, the secret is clover.
This would make a great Earth Day piece but it’s relevant any time during the growing season. I am an award-winning freelance writer, columnist, and op-ed contributor. I am also the Communications Director for the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, member of the Cincinnati Enquirer Editorial Board, and a board member for the Cincinnati Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
I have bylines in the New York Times, USA today, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Eye on Ohio, Medium, Your Teen for Parents, and more. My full portfolio is on my WriterBonnie.com and on Muckrack.
|Print, Web||1-2 emails from editor||It will be in the Spring Issue of Subaru Drive then online. Pay was $1 a word. Paid as expected as soon as the draft was accepted.|
|OZY||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Meet Ometepe's most wanted political refugee||900 words||Profile|
I am a Managua based freelance journalist. Would you be interested in a feature about Nicaraguan political refugees escaping an island that was once a world-renowned tourist destination?
Sunday Splash / Provocateurs
Why you should care: Ometepe is the latest place to be hit by the authoritarian persecution of dissidents sweeping the country that has effectively put an end to protest in the streets and sent activists fleeing for their lives.
Meet Ometepe Island's most wanted political refugee
John Bolton’s recent comments placing Nicaragua in a “troika of tyranny,” along with Venezuela and Cuba, threatening sanctions but taking no action, has once again put the spotlight on the Nicaraguan government's suppression of peaceful dissent. Once the crown jewel of Nicaragua’s tourist attractions, the island of Ometepe has become an island prison for political dissidents, the latest and most disturbing sign of the Nicaraguan government's authoritarian turn. More than 150 police and paramilitary arrived on the island on October 7 and began going door to door, arresting and assaulting suspected activists. I traveled to Ometepe in October and interviewed a number of people including Luis Sandino, an opposition leader on the island who was the most sought-after political dissident on the island, whose family described him as “ a little guy with big ideas,” and was known on the island to be wanted “dead or alive.” With no easy escape from the island, hundreds of citizens fled their homes leaving the islands tourism-based economy on the brink of collapse and turning picturesque volcanoes into a hiding ground for desperate activists subsisting on honey and bread, while police and paramilitary units use canines to track them down. Sandino hid from authorities in Ometepe’s jungle with 14 other dissidents, and after 20 days in hiding, made a dramatic nighttime escape in a wooden rowboat. He is now en route to Costa Rica, where an uncertain future awaits.
Prior Coverage: The Ometepe crackdown has been almost entirely unreported in English language press at the time of writing, the new wave of selective political persecution has not been covered in any depth. The crackdown on Ometepe received scant coverage in the Nicaraguan press.
|Web||1-2 emails from editor||https://www.ozy.com/provocateurs/one-of-nicaraguas-most-wanted-refugees-plots-his-comeback/91201/|
|The New York Times||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||VHS for Sale: A Pitch||1500 words||Reported, Trend||A VHS tape is more than the sum of its parts |
On Instagram, a longtime friend of mine recently started a handle to address his massive VHS collection, selling a battered copy of the 2003 film Kangaroo Jack for $190. His accumulation of VHS tapes is vast and follows no particular chain of thought. When I asked him how he had procured his wares, he told me that they were from eBay, thrift stores, and video stores that were going out of business. "People look for rare ones and horror ones the most."
I confirmed this myself by searching for rare VHS tapes, when I came across a tape of the 1991 Disney movie The Little Mermaid that is selling for $45,000 on Etsy (due to a pornographic design on the cover that was subsequently removed). Following his lead, I looked up #vhsforsale on Instagram, and was met by 44,000 posts, with sellers offering up everything from Motley Crue's "Uncensored" to the 1989 Tom Hanks film Turner and Hooch. Despite the fact that no film has been released on VHS since 2006, and despite the fact that, in order to play these tapes, you'll need a VCR, all of which are used and of questionable quality at this point, VHS tapes are... still selling. They're a commodity among retro aficionados, and original Disney films appear to be particularly popular (I found copies of The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast for sale in the thousands).
So why are people collecting--and watching--VHS tapes when technology is so far beyond fast forward and rewind? There is, to start, something tactile and visual about the humble cassette tape. It was, in some ways, an art form (I can't be the one who recalls the unbridled joy of reading the backs of boxes in video stores). It was also an index of cultural preference. Did you prefer a double-cassette drama, like The Godfather, or were you more inclined to collect the single-cassette slasher Friday the 13th? To own a movie was to commit to watching it again and again, which we have no use for in the moment of on-demand viewing. Even Netflix has evolved (the original blueprint of the company included a queue you built yourself, and a series of three DVDs sent out by post, a home rental system that still offered the sensation of holding something in your hand). That's what makes these collections special, I think: they're permanent. You can hold onto a film forever, not unlike a book.
For this piece, I'll interview VHS collectors, sellers, and a historian for a broad sense of why people collect obsolete items that have been outpaced by technology and other advances. Even when something outlives its invented usefulness, it continues to be useful, though maybe not in the same way. I'd love to write about this for The New York Times.
|Print, Web||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/20/style/vhs-tapes.html?searchResultPosition=2&fbclid=IwAR258TeP0oA9t2T_eQUkUgoj6HFrwnf3CkvTVKlWjlV-3szS_GOtI1f-vSs||Original pitch also included some hyperlinks, which you can't capture in the copy/paste function.|
|The Objective||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Pitch: [Even Paid Journalism Internships Are Often Hard To Afford]||1500 words||Reported, Narrative||Hi,|
Hope you are doing well! I am pitching an article about the costs of paid journalism internships I think would fit great with The Objective, if you’re interested.
If you are one of the lucky few selected to be a Denver Post Breaking News Intern this summer, you will earn 13.31/hour, approximately $1,064 every two weeks and $2,128 per month. However, according to a July article by the publication, the average cost of rent in Denver is $1,506 — 70% of an intern’s monthly paycheck.
This issue isn’t unique to The Denver Post. Paid journalism internships are few and far between, forcing students to apply all over the country while hoping they get a single offer from a paper. If they are selected for an internship, the publication frequently gives no additional funds to afford moving, housing, or transportation costs. If the student does not live at home, living in the same city as the publication can be just as pricey.
I want to write a piece for The Objective centered around students/early-career journalists who have had to figure out how to afford these expenses, even when their internship is paid. As a journalism student still in school who grew up poor and whose family often still struggles financially, I know firsthand how hard figuring out this issue can be. The piece would be around 1500 words. If accepted, I would have a draft ready by Friday, October 23.
I am a freelance journalist, fact checker, and transcriptionist based in Charleston, South Carolina. I have worked for D Magazine as a fact checker, as well as for my old school newspaper, Fourth Estate, as an assistant culture editor and copy editor. Here are some examples of my previous work:
Thanks! Hope to hear from you soon and that you are staying safe,
|Web, Stayed as pitched||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.objectivejournalism.org/p/paid-journalism-internships-are-often|
|WIRED||To an editor/publication you'd previously worked with||QUERY: Lab-grown plant tissue could fundamentally change biomaterials production||1500 words||Reported||Good morning and happy Friday! I've got a story idea below looking at research on lab-grown plant tissue out of MIT.|
I think this story could be turned around pretty quickly, as long as researchers are responsive.
Take a look as you're able, please, and happy to discuss more!
Thanks very much
Researchers at MIT have quite a green thumb—they’ve cultivated lab-grown plant tissue, no soil or sunlight necessary.
The resulting wood-like material offers an important first step toward more efficient biomaterials production. Even though wood is renewable, the prospect of someday growing wood and plant fibers, instead of cutting down trees, could lessen the environmental footprint of forestry and agriculture and reduce excess materials waste.
A paper describing this work will be published in the Journal of Cleaner Production but is available online. The paper’s first author spent time on a farm where she observed agriculture’s inefficiencies fisthand, such as wasted or discarded plant portions and inconsistent yields, apparently inspiring this research, which sounds like a neat story.
The researchers grew the wood-like plant tissue indoors. They first extracted living cells from zinnia plant leaves and cultivated them in a liquid medium, becoming a gel. Then, they added the plant hormones auxin and cytokinin to prompt production of ligand, an organic polymer that gives wood its firmness. Like 3D printing, the resulting wood-like structures can be grown into different shapes thanks to the malleable gel scaffolding.
To be clear, this is early-stage work, requiring much more research and investment before growing plant tissue large scale. But I think this is a fascinating, unique idea, and, for WIRED, I’d like to further describe this research and its sustainability implications.
In addition to speaking with the paper’s authors, sources like plant biologists at North Carolina State University and Purdue could provide further perspective on this work.
(Link to related press release)
Let me know what you think, please, and thanks as always for considering!
|Web||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.wired.com/story/nature-makes-wood-could-a-lab-make-it-better/?utm_social-type=earned|
|Whetstone||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Moa - A dessert in West Bengal that smells of winter||1500 words||Reported||In the Indian tourism advertisement campaigns, the state of West Bengal is branded as the ‘sweetest part of India’. Every lane in West Bengal, no matter how quiet and sleepy, features at least one sweet shop. Joynagarer moa (Joynagarer= from Joynagar), is a seasonal sweet that decks the counters of these shops for a brief period—the winter months of (late) November, December, January and February.|
Most of the sweets that West Bengal is popular for are made with curdled milk. They have colonial origins. However, moa is not among them. Joynagar is a town around 50 kilometres south of Kolkata(the capital of West Bengal). Here, a special kind of rice called ‘Kanakchur’ is harvested in winter. Also, in this region, aromatic nolen gur (date-palm jaggery) is tapped from the trunk of wild date-palm trees in late autumn and winter— the two instrumental ingredients that go into moa making.
The sticky jaggery is poured all over the puffed rice of the Kanakchur variety. Khoa kheer (solidified milk made by heating) is sprinkled over it. The mixture is greased by gawa ghee(clarified butter made of cow’s milk) and rolled into a ball. Poppy seeds, crushed pistachios, cashews, and raisins garnish the final product.
Previously, moa was manufactured and enjoyed by the locals at a micro level(around Joynagar) and only sold to outsiders at haats (weekly markets) of the regional villages. In 1929, the first moa shop was opened in Joynagar giving the sweet its first branding and paving the path to its popularity within the state.
During winter months, Joynagarer moa is found in all sweet shops across the state; however, many of them are fake (particularly in Kolkata)—they neither use Kanakchur rice or date palm jaggery, nor are they authentically made in Joynagar. This forced the government to give Geographical Indication to Joynagarer moa. Very few people outside the state are aware of this sweet.
Would you be interested in a story on winter's favourite sweet for West Bengal, the moa?
|Web||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.whetstonemagazine.com/south-asia-journal/a-sweet-taste-of-terroir|
|The Juggernaut||Cold-pitch (no previous contact with editor)||Posto: Bengal's comfort food||1500 words||Essay, Reported||On sunny summer afternoons, when my mother enjoyed a siesta, I tiptoed around her as silently as possible and reached out for that prized bowl of posto bata kept on the kitchen counter. The dose of earthy, nutty flavor of the seeds, crushed into paste and spiced with pungent mustard oil, satisfied my cravings.|
White poppy seeds obtained from the opium plant are known as posto in the Bengal region, which comprises the state of West Bengal in eastern India and the country of Bangladesh. Traditionally, poppy seeds soaked in water for over an hour are ground using a stone slab the shil — commonly embossed with a fish shaped pattern for improved friction that had to be re-embossed every few months— and a stone rolling pin, the noda. The resulting paste is consumed in a variety of ways.
Posto has been ubiquitous in the kitchens of Bengal since the British colonists gained a hold on the opium trade here. The British, who came to rule over most of India from 1612-1947, forced farmers in Bengal into harvesting opium on a large scale. This opium was further sold through black market channels to China, a country where the product was already banned due to its addictive properties.
While wars broke out between China and Great Britain over opium, the poor wives of the opium farmers in Bengal experimented with the residue to supplement their paltry meals. This is how posto entered the Bengali diet and has been a staple since then. The poppy seed-pods and their latex are the narcotic parts of the opium plant. Ethically, poppy seeds should be harvested for culinary purposes only when the seed pods and the latex in them has completely dried.
As recipes around posto evolved, the Bengalis found their comfort food in alu posto(potato curry in poppy based gravy). Posto bata (raw paste of poppy seeds), posto bora (poppy fritters), jhinge posto (ridge gourd and poppy curry) are some that have made their way into Bengali cuisine as everyday dishes.
Shukto, a bitter vegetable curry that is revered among the Bengalis, is thickened with posto. Posto also found its way into Bengali desserts, typically made with curdled milk (a method introduced by the Portuguese colonisers).
Chefs in India continue experimenting with poppy seeds. They are used as thickening agents in fish and meat curries; in fact they are also used by chefs to give texture to yoghurts.
I am proposing a story on the origin of poppy seeds in India; how poppy made its way into Bengali culture and kitchens as a staple. I would also write about the individual Bengali dishes that centre around poppy seeds / are enhanced by the poppy seeds, and how the modern chefs are using poppy seeds to go beyond the established norms.
SOURCES: I intend to connect with chefs, food bloggers and food historians for the article.
Please let me know if you think this story can work for you.
|Web||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.jgnt.co/how-posto-became-bengals-comfort-food|
|Rewire||From a pitch call on twitter or other public forum||Go Ahead, Read the Comments: Why Judging People on the Internet Is Bringing Us Together||900 words||Reported||Don’t read the comments, they say—it’s full of trolls and negativity. Or are they? Message boards devoted to seemingly negative topics, like the subreddit “Am I the Asshole?” (in which people post examples of recent conflicts and invite the world to judge whether they were in the wrong), often bring people together. And no, not in the Shirley Jackson short story “The Lottery” way; there’s also a genuine sense of community—especially in the last year, when face-to-face contact has been limited. As commenters weigh in on low-stakes problems (“Am I the asshole for asking my brother to split the cost of a plane ticket canceled for reasons he directly caused?”), they debate, award fellow commenters virtual prizes for witty remarks, and often just have a good time. Twitter has gotten in on the action, as there’s now a Twitter account devoted to controversial or just plain weird posts.|
Like many people in their 20s and 30s, I grew up finding community on internet message boards in the ’90s and ’00s, and when COVID shutdowns began, I found myself starting each day by checking reddit. For my piece, a reported feature, I’d like to begin by discussing my own experiences and also interview other 20- and 30somethings who have found solace on reddit and other internet communities (such as the comments section on Slate.com), asking them why they’re drawn to these sites. I will also interview the creator of the Reddit AITA Twitter account; I’d also like to get commentary from psychology and/or sociology professors on why online communities like these can be so appealing, such as Grace Choi, a professor at Columbia College Chicago whose research focuses on the internet and social media. Though I don’t want to jump to conclusions, I suspect that light drama, removed from our own lives, can be enticing—and that as social creatures, we thrive on anything that brings us together, even if it’s just to all agree that the internet poster refusing to pick up after his dog is indeed “the asshole.”
|Web, Changed a little from pitch||None, accepted from original or follow-up||https://www.rewire.org/comments-online-community/|