A good ‘pitch’ is the foundation for getting published – and telling a good story. In a nutshell, an effective pitch should do several objectives. These include:
- Explain the story (not just the topic)
Saying that you’d like to write something about immigration in Canada is a start, but it isn’t a story – yet. Getting from a topic to a story takes a bit more work. Consider asking yourself a couple of simple questions. These include: ‘what is different about what I want to write about than what has been already published?’, or, ‘what new perspectives or angles does my story bring forward that previously published pieces do not?’
- Introduce the character(s)
At its heart, journalism is about people – and telling their stories. Whether of triumph or struggle, the people at the heart of news stories personify public issues in a way that helps build understanding and empathy with the reader.In your pitch, you should tell us about the main character(s) in your story and how their lived experience brings new and telling perspectives to the topic or issue you want to write about. This description should help you to focus your pitch so that you hone in on how you plan to tell one story in your article.One way to do this is to consider including a focus statement in your pitch. It’s a simple exercise that follows the formula: ‘people/characters’ doing (something) for a reason. An example focus statement could be: A Hindu-Canadian man is writing activist poetry because the federal government has placed restrictions on his access to health care services.
- Do your homework
Your pitch should show your editor that you have both thought about the story, and also done sufficient preliminary research to confidently express why your story should be commissioned. Your pitch should be persuasive and show that you’ve already done some basic background research to identify important documents and interview sources that will be instrumental to your story.Just like you would write an outline for a school term paper, your pitch shows your editor that you’ve thought through your story. The more advanced your pitch is, in terms of preliminary research, the more likely your editor will be able to make an educated assessment about whether to give you the ‘ok’ to complete the story for publication.
*All pitches will be reviewed by a panel of editors from NCM, The Walrus, CBC, Metroland and the National NewsMedia Council.
Here’s an example of a successful pitch NCM received from a member of our Collective:
As the Coronavirus Outbreak captures headlines around the world, largely undiscussed are racist undertones that are increasingly being amplified as more and more people become ill.
My proposed comment would provide insight into this disturbing trend – both online and in the physical world. Over the course of the past month, I’ve been bombarded by countless posts on social networks that have spread misinformation about the causes and different ways the Coronavirus is being spread.
I will argue that fighting the virus has no boundary, regardless of your language and place of residence. But some Hong Kongers, including my previous media colleagues, are using this outbreak as a political bargaining chip against Mainland Chinese people. This sickens me because one can blame the system and the political machine behind it, but not the people within. They are victims just like you and me.
It’s a cheap shot for political pundits to target Chinese people from Wuhan and Mainland China. It is wrong for the people of Hong Kong or anywhere else to use this to drive a wedge against China and its people.