How to Write for Us

ps-mac-09

Pacific Standard publishes stories that matter, stories that, by virtue of their ideas and craft, are capable of creating a better and more just society. With a methodology that mixes rigorous reporting and narrative journalism with peer-reviewed research, we are fiercely committed to covering social and environmental justice.

We seek writers who can tell deeply reported, gripping tales about issues in the public interest while plumbing the intellectual, theoretical, and empirical context that surrounds them. Every story we publish has a strong connection to one of our four core subject areas: environment, education, economics, and social justice.

Our aim is to help readers think about how society works—and how it could be working better.

News Coverage

We publish a variety of sophisticated, fun stories daily—reported features, essays, columns, and more. That means we're always looking for work that responds in some way to recent news and events and/or is especially shareable on the social Web. Pieces that can keep Pacific Standard in and among the lively conversations happening every day online and reinforce our status as a must-read daily destination for social and environmental coverage. Quick-turn reporting and/or storytelling about ideas that are experimental or deeply unusual may also find purchase with us. Our staff has a wide array of interests, and a well-crafted pitch about a subject on the periphery of our main subject areas may just work.

Feature Stories

Pacific Standard publishes ambitious longform stories that are finely crafted, meticulously reported, and fueled by a bottomless curiosity about society and the relationships that sustain it. We place a high value on originality in both subject and execution, and are always looking to be surprised. While research and analysis are encouraged, we frown upon overly academic treatments, preferring the dynamic characters and vivid settings that are essential elements of good storytelling. We enjoy think pieces that question an assumption in our society or defend an obscure idea and help it gain prominence. Personal essays work for us when they are rooted in some kind of injustice, and keep one foot firmly planted in the world of ideas. Profiles work too, when the subject offers a unique perspective on a pressing issue or helps shed light on some forgotten corner of history. We like groundbreaking exposés, particularly those that attempt to increase our understanding of human relationships and the culture at large. Above all, we want stories that illuminate the roots of injustice and point readers toward a better future.

The PS Interview

Our longform interviews feature conversations with figures of substance who represent the sophistication, political orientation, depth of character, and scope of interest of PS. We're interested in featuring the scholars, revolutionaries, policymakers, and creatives who are fighting for a better and more just future. Sometimes staff writers or freelancers do the interviewing; sometimes we put luminaries in conversation with each other. We're often seeking very recognizable names, but will consider less-well-known characters that have interesting ideas and compelling stories to share.

Photo Essays

Pacific Standard photo essays should relate to our core focus on social and environmental justice. While some may require introductory text and/or narrative captions, the aim is to give the reader a primarily visual experience. Possible photo essay genres include: the photojournalism exposé, depicting some shocking thing that few people know is happening; the narrative photo essay, telling the story of a movement, journey, or event through a series of images; portraits of people or places in support of an idea or theme.

Solutions-Oriented Journalism

We seek a steady stream of stories that highlight, in narratives as well as sidebars and infographics, solutions to society's biggest problems and the people attempting to solve them. Through interpretive and critical journalism, especially on matters of politics and policy, these pieces either spotlight what's already working—or not working—or make the case for why a proposal might or might not work. At its core, Pacific Standard's solutions-oriented journalism presents an argument, and, to make a good one, its narratives should lean on concrete evidence collected by experts in the field. There are a lot of good ideas in the world; we want to share the ones we think might actually work. We aim to take readers into the statehouses where new policies with the potential to impact environmental, economic, and educational concerns are being drafted first-hand; behind the scenes with individuals and organizations working to effect ambitious change; and on the road to see and experience, as best they can, real progress toward addressing stubborn and difficult social problems.

Culture & Criticism

Pacific Standard's cultural coverage examines entertainment through ideas, and ideas through entertainment—from books to film, television, podcasts, video games, museums, music, and street art—with two simple questions that guide our work: How do notions of conscience and justice energize, illuminate, or inform current cultural efforts, and how do arts lead the way in social change? Whether our writers are reporting a scene piece about a ride-along with a band in Malawi, or writing a conceptual essay that draws important links between (say) the latest video game and a recent book about human empathy, our culture coverage combines traditional magazine criticism with social comment and original research to make the reader look at art and the world in a new way. We are open to reported features or essays that cover multiple titles or media and include strong characters; book reviews that explore original ideas; and short scene pieces.

What We're Not Looking For

  • Press releases, journal articles, dissertations, think tank reports, or white papers.
  • Topics (as opposed to stories), or otherwise unfocused/wavering ideas.
  • Things that you haven't put a lot of thought and care into preparing.
  • Advertisements, or anything that reads like you might have been paid by a corporation or a politician to write it.
  • Pitches that do not consider or reflect upon anything outside the affluent white, male experience.
  • Stories without conflict, motion, or discovery.
  • Conventional movie or music reviews; celebrity interviews.
  • Aggregation, unless it's paired with substantial original reporting.
  • Completed manuscripts, unless requested (describe it to us first).
section-break
ps-mac-08

All Pacific Standard articles should be sophisticated and engaging, should shed light on the new or the innovative, and should wear their erudition lightly. Writers receive careful, thoughtful, collegial, and stringent editing, with the aim of making sophisticated ideas and research accessible to an educated public.

Anybody pitching Pacific Standard should be familiar with our work. Subscribe to our premium program, and sign up for our free email newsletter to learn more about what we publish. Queries are welcome via email to pitches@psmag.com, where they will be accessible to the entire editorial team and reviewed regularly. If you have an existing relationship with an editor on staff, feel free to pitch that person directly. Please note that, due to the high volume of email we receive, we cannot respond to all pitches. If you do not hear back from us within a month, you should assume that your pitch wasn't right for Pacific Standard at this time.