Pitching Global Stories: A Freelancer’s Guide

Send us your smart, original stories about what’s going on in the world.

NASA / Reuters

The Atlantic’s global coverage is driven by curiosity about the world, the forces that drive it, and the people who inhabit it. The best global stories pose questions that transcend borders, and look for answers in surprising places. They aim not just to inform, but to help readers think deeply, again, or anew about topics as varied as the Syrian Civil War to how expressing love and thanks differs from one place to another.

Our favorite stories stick in the mind long after any particular news cycle has ended; they shape a reader’s outlook on the events and ideas that affect how people experience the world. Is American-style small talk really necessary? What’s actually in the Magna Carta? Why do many Latin American countries make it illegal not to vote?

We’re fairly flexible on the format these stories take; they can, for example, be reported essays, personal reflections, or history lessons. We’re deeply interested in policy and geopolitics, but the planet is so much richer than the decisions of the powerful. Since it’s ultimately human beings at the receiving end, experiencing the world’s surprising gifts and devastating flaws, working out common challenges and learning how to live together, we want to know what they’re up to—and how we can learn from each other.

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The types of stories we love:

Analysis that provokes or advances a debate:

Stories that shift a common perspective or depict the familiar in a new way:

Interrogations of big ideas:

Analysis that demystifies prominent news stories:

Comparative context for everything from politics to cultural habits:

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We rarely accept:

  • Newspaper-style op-eds aimed at policymakers and organized around explicit calls to action (“America must lead a coalition” etc.)
  • Deeply reported, travel-intensive pieces or extensive investigations (usually too ambitious for our staffing and budget constraints on the web side—unless there’s a third partner or granting organization to help)
  • Reported dispatches with no clear “big idea” or lesson to impart
  • Overly narrow or technical stories with limited appeal to a general-interest audience

Tips and logistical notes:

  1. It’s important to have a clear frame in mind; it’s even better to have a winner headline that states succinctly what the piece is about and makes us excited to read it.

  2. Whether you’re pitching a reported piece or analysis, it helps if you give us an idea of how you plan to execute the story, and how you would find out what you need to find out.

  3. It’s helpful to keep the reader in mind: What would be interesting to a curious person, who may not closely follow international affairs or the particular issue (or country) you know well? Stories should hit the sweet spot of appealing to a broad audience while offering something new for specialists.

  4. We pay for all stories. Fee depends on the type and length of the piece.

  5. Geographic diversity matters to us. If you have a local story that you believe should be told to a wide audience, let us know.

  6. Send your pitches to global @ theatlantic.com. We check it every day and can usually get back to you within a few days.