Chicago Reader is are primarily a staff-written publication, but they also run narrative features, neighborhood news stories, criticism, videos, and audio works that come from freelance contributors.
The Reader maintains a small core of dedicated freelancers and accepts pitches on an ongoing basis from new voices. Women, nonbinary people, and contributors of color are urged to pitch them, using the loose guidelines below. Please be aware, however, that they do receive a lot of pitches and must be selective. These guidelines are meant to help you craft a pitch that will cut through the clutter and pique our interest.
Chicago Reader will assess the likelihood of you completing the story as planned based on what you include in the pitch. While they are traditionally a prose publication, they also encourage submissions of photos, illustrations, video, or other multimedia pieces that could run online or in print. Pitch guidelines have been outlined for these areas below.
- They rarely ccept completed stories. If you send a finished article that is more than 500 words, it might be left unread.
- They accept both reported stories and op-eds.
- If you’ve never written for Chicago reader before, it is recommended that you start by pitching a short story—one that is 300 to 1,000 words that you can report and write in a day or two—as opposed to a lengthy feature that might take weeks or months to report and write.
- Don’t presume they are as knowledgeable about this topic as you are. Help the reader/editor to get into the story the way you would if you were telling the story to a friend who knew nothing about the topic.
- There are several sections of the paper that are open to freelance submissions:
- City Life:
The friendly front-of-the-book section accepts submissions for “What the hell is this place?” This feature includes a photo of an unusual aspect of the built environment in the city (a place that makes you go huh?!) and a brief explanation of what the object or structure is. The reader is also looking for submissions to “Sightseeing,” a history-focused short essay that highlights little-known tidbits from our weird city’s past. These pieces are 300 to 600 words in length. Send City Life pitches to Salem Collo-Julin at [email protected].
News & Politics:
Here are some topics they are especially interested in right now:
- #BlackLivesMatter and police misconduct
- Chicago’s public schools
- Environment, health, and science
- Gender issues and #MeToo
- LGBTQ issues
News & Politics piece can range anywhere from 600 to 3,000 words in length and can be written in a fact-forward newsy style or, for longer works, employ the literary journalism approach the Readeris known for. Send pitches to Jim Daley at [email protected].
GoodLuck! See other magazines to make pitches to, here