Much of Berkeleyside’s best work happens in collaboration with local independent writers, reporters, researchers, and other community members. We’re eager to work with more people to share Berkeley’s stories, serve local information needs, and amplify important perspectives from across our city.
So, how can we make it happen? We put together a primer on what you should know if you’re interested in freelancing before you send in your pitch. When you’re ready, just send us an email, and an editor will get back to you within one week.
Stories and formats we’re interested in: We love hearing from community members about important issues happening in Berkeley communities and neighborhoods that might not be on everyone else’s radars. We love stories that help Berkeleyans learn about resources that would benefit them and their communities, or teach people how to navigate complicated systems. We love quirky, funny, inspiring or revealing features. Stories don’t have to be traditional narrative reports: We like FAQs, “how-to” guides, personal essays, short videos and more. Our daily photojournalism needs are covered, but we’re open to photo essays and other visual ideas.
How to check whether your idea is a fit for Berkeleyside before you send in your pitch: 1. Read what we publish to get an overall sense of how we aim to serve our communities. You can sign up for our newsletters to get fresh stories in your inbox. 2. Check out the About page of our website. The building blocks of our work are facts, research, and interviews centered in Berkeley.
We welcome submissions of opinion pieces. They must be fact-based, with links and citations to substantiate arguments. We generally do not publish items that have appeared elsewhere and ask for two weeks’ exclusivity. Please note: We do not pay for opinion pieces, which are published at our discretion. Learn more about submitting.
We only publish stories that are closely tied to people and issues in Berkeley. We don’t publish stories on regional, state, or national issues that aren’t rooted in our city. If you want to write about such an issue, and have a compelling way to tie it to people, places, or happenings in Berkeley, we’d love to hear about it.
We’ll never take your pitch and assign it to one of our in-house staff reporters. If one of our full-time reporters is already working on a very similar story, or has expressed interest in doing so, we will let you know immediately and — depending on the story — consider whether there might be a good opportunity for the two of you to collaborate.
If your pitch resonates with our editorial mission, doesn’t overlap with a story we already have in progress, and we’re able to properly support your pitch with editing bandwidth and funding at the time you submit it, here’s how we’ll work with you:
- Compensation: We pay $100 for briefs that take less than half a day of reporting and writing. We pay $250 for arts and food reviews, for articles covering a single meeting or event, for roundups under 1,200 words, and for stories that take about a day or so of reporting and writing. We pay at least $350 for complex features that involve difficult sourcing, document analysis or significant reporter initiative, and for stories taking about two to three days of reporting and writing. We pay $500 or more for in-depth enterprise and investigative reports that take longer to produce.
We pay at least $50 to reprint stories that first appeared in other media organizations. We pay $150 for student stories written for credit.
We pay $250 for one-off photo assignments requiring less than half a day in the field. We pay $350 and up for photo essays requiring more time in the community. (Writers are expected to solicit photos from sources and to take their own photos, when feasible in the course of their reporting, for no additional fee.)
All fees include the cost of travel to assignments. Reporting expenses, such as the cost of obtaining court documents, will be reimbursed with advanced permission. We’ll work with you to figure out how long your story is likely to take and offer you a clear rate ahead of time.
- Story planning: If you’re new to working with us, a Berkeleyside editor will talk to you about your reporting process before you get started, and you’ll work together to roadmap a plan.
- Editing: We’re proud to offer hands-on editing for every story we publish. We strive for clear communication, timely responses and a supportive working experience.
When you’re writing your pitch, we suggest you:
- Summarize what you want to report on in a sentence or two.
- Let us know the big questions your story seeks to answer.
- State who you’ll interview, why they’re a good fit for this story and their connection to Berkeley.
- Spell out who the audience is for your story
- Explain why it’s important to tell this story now.
- Tell us why you’re well-placed to write this story.
- Include links to your website and/or any work you have had published.
Then just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.