Member? Log in...

Join or renew today

Membership

Virtual PitchFest 2020: The editors

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020; 11 a.m.–4 p.m. ET

Editors from some of the top magazines and newspapers are going virtual to meet you! Bring your best ideas to the AHCJ Virtual PitchFest.

This session has been created to give you an opportunity to pitch your ideas virtually one-on-one with editors from selected publications.

The list of editors and what they are looking for is provided below. Please be sure to read more about the PitchFest and what is expected of participants on this page.


Pam Weintraub, Aeon and Psyche

Weintraub is a digital editor, magazine-maker and storyteller covering science, health and psychology at the crossroads of culture. She is currently a senior editor at Aeon and Psyche, specializing in psychology, science, and medicine, and editor-in-chief of The Animal Mind, a newsstand magazine published twice a year by Centennial Media. She is winner of the American Medical Writers Association Book Award for Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic and author or co-author of 16 other books. She has garnered numerous honors for long-form narrative, investigative, and literary journalism acquired and edited for Aeon, Discover, Psychology Today, and others. For Aeon, she seeks pitches for longform articles from psychologists and other expert authors. For Psyche, she seeks short-form essays on psychology and philosophy from a first person perspective, but produced with an underlying rigor. Please look at the Aeon Psyche sites before pitching. She is always seeking ideas on stories about dogs, cats, and other animals. 


Kate Yandell, digital editor, Cancer Today

Cancer Today is a quarterly print magazine and website for cancer patients and their loved ones published by the American Association for Cancer Research. We are looking for stories that offer practical information about advances in cancer research and treatment. We cover issues for patients and loved ones like quality of life, mental health, disparities in access to care, family issues and financial strain. Many stories for our website, which I edit, focus on cancer research, often by explaining in clear language what a recent study really means. I am also looking for Q&A’s with researchers who can explain a topic of interest or with patients who are working to improve life for others with cancer. For our magazine, we are looking for pitches of news stories on recent research (max 600 words), as well as 300-word articles on maintaining a healthy lifestyle during and after cancer treatment. I’m also happy to receive pitches for magazine features (1800-2000 words), with the caveat that we have limited slots for these stories that we fill far in advance of the publication date.

(Approximately $300 for 700-word reported web stories and $1/word for print magazine stories.)


Tod Jones, managing editor, Costco Wholesale/Costco Connection

Please display knowledge of and familiarity with the magazine. Please don't pitch ideas that we've run within the last 2-3 years. Please make pitches that have a connection to Costco (health products and or services), e.g., vision health (Costco has optical centers); gut issues (Costco sells probiotics), etc.. Our articles are general information, with solid substantiation. We don't cover cutting-edge topics or health remedies that have not been amply verified. Ask for guidelines and special sections calendar before pitching ideas.

($1.25/word)


Alex Orlando, assistant editor, Discover Magazine

Discover is a national consumer science magazine that covers all kinds of scientific fields. We want stories that enlighten, inform and get readers excited about science; we capture science that’s relevant to them. Our stories are grounded in the research, but are driven by strong narratives, high reader interest and a conversational tone. Our audience is broad: Science should be for everyone. For the print magazine, you’ll have the best luck pitching front-of-book story ideas, followed by columns and features, which are more limited and selective. Pitches for columns should be focused on one of the following subject areas: medical mysteries, novel earth and environmental science, history of science (that also circles back to today), anthropology/archaeology, behavioral science and technology. We also seek web-only stories, especially short features with a new angle on current events or that are evergreen.

(For print, starting at $1/word. For web, typically $300/story.)  


Felix Gussone, senior editor, Elemental

Elemental is a publication for scientifically rigorous reporting in health and wellness that is useful, expert-informed, encouraging, and nuanced. Most of the pieces we publish fall into the following categories: body, brain, food, life, trends, and health in the future. We’re looking for thoroughly reported features and explainers -- stories that are created for endlessly curious people who want to know more about their bodies and minds and how to best care for them. We dig into the science of health and wellness to help readers determine what’s true, what’s not, and what’s not yet known. Every Elemental story gives readers trusted, up-to-date information they can use in their own lives. Elemental covers nearly everything under the health and wellness umbrella, so long as it’s backed by science.


Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, senior editor, Everyday Health

EverydayHealth.com is looking for people who can write news, general content, and service pieces relevant to the topics of oncology and mental health.

Essays and blog posts that offer personal takes on these topics are also welcome.

(App. $350.)

 


Robert Lott, deputy editor, Health Affairs

In addition to peer-reviewed health policy research, Health Affairs publishes feature-length freelance, journalist-written articles about timely topics in health policy.

Some pieces align with upcoming theme issues. Some pieces are part of "Leading To Health" our ongoing series on health system transformation.

(1- $1.50 per word)


Lexie Verdon, senior editor, Kaiser Health News

Kaiser Health News is looking for news-focused features from around the country that delve into health care from the perspective of the consumer. We do not cover clinical medicine and don't usually write about research developments. We try to illuminate for lay readers how the health care system works – or doesn't – and look for compelling stories that aren't being covered elsewhere. We have tended to concentrate on issues such as access to care, insurance problems, cost of treatment, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, although we're always interested in other aspects of health policy that may be far removed from a hospital setting or doctor's office. We also love a good health tale well told. In addition to our California and D.C. offices, we have new bureaus in the Midwest and Mountain regions so we're especially looking for coverage from those areas that would be of interest to a national audience. Our articles generally run about 800 to 1,200 words. Typically, we ask freelancers to pitch us via email with a couple of graphs about the focus of the story, the expected nut graph and the breadth of sources you plan to interview.

($1-$2/word)


Joyce Frieden, Washington editor, MedPage Today

MedPage Today’s target audience includes all varieties of healthcare professionals, but the focus remains physicians, nurses, and physician assistants.

We seek original content that can provide useful information for practicing clinicians, regardless of whether that information is based on clinical research, clinical practice, medical education, payment or policy issues, but what really excites us is a good story that pulls the user in and holds his or her attention.

MedPage Today also has a dedicated enterprise & investigative reporting team that digs into issues that impact practice, including the influence of money and politics on medicine, healthcare overuse, bad practices in science and medicine, and more.


Kristina Fiore, director of enterprise & investigative reporting, MedPage Today

MedPage Today’s target audience includes all varieties of healthcare professionals, but the focus remains physicians, nurses, and physician assistants.

We seek original content that can provide useful information for practicing clinicians, regardless of whether that information is based on clinical research, clinical practice, medical education, payment or policy issues, but what really excites us is a good story that pulls the user in and holds his or her attention. 

MedPage Today also has a dedicated enterprise & investigative reporting team that digs into issues that impact practice, including the influence of money and politics on medicine, healthcare overuse, bad practices in science and medicine, and more.


Lauren Gravitz, science journalist and editor, Medscape

Medscape provides editorially independent, accurate, balanced, and timely news on major advances across most medical specialties. We assign stories based on journal studies, conference presentations, and breaking regulatory/healthcare policy news. Deadlines can range from same day to a few days. In addition, we are interested in data-driven and/or narrative features examining previously unexplored areas of medicine. Pitch us unique stories that no one else has that also ideally have some kind of big reveal. Writers should be able to write in a variety of medical specialties, and can research a topic and conduct interviews to provide the clinical context and perspective that is a cornerstone of our news coverage. For Pitchfest, please bring a CV and relevant hard copy clips of your work or urls on your CV.

(Rates vary, but generally start at least $1/word.)


Debbie Flapan, Medscape

Medscape is interested in pitches that look at medicine from a new angle, with specific relevance to physicians and other healthcare professionals. Medscape's news can be more complex than news geared toward consumers, with an assumption of a basic foundation of knowledge. We already cover much of the news coming out of medical journals and conferences, so we're looking for unique pitches that will engage readers. Styles can range from shorter explorations to narrative pieces or investigative reports, but all should have a clear news hook or question to explore and an understanding of why it's relevant and important to physicians and other healthcare professionals. Freelancers can also communicate interest in covering studies from journals and presentations at medical conferences. Journal pieces generally range from 500-800 words and will have 1- to 3-day turnaround. Conference coverage requires travel, when travel is allowed again, and requires same-day or next-day turnaround. Most articles require comments from the researcher as well as an independent commentator, so strong interviewing skills are a must.

($500)


Ginny Hughes, science editor, The New York Times

I'm a new-ish science editor at the New York Times, focused mostly on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

For freelancers, I'm looking mostly for quick-turnaround enterprise stories that hit on the news cycle. For the rest of this year, that means I'm not considering much non-COVID stuff.

(Assignments generally range from 600-1500 words, at $1/word.)

 


Erik Vance, The New York Times

The motto of the New York Times Parenting desk is "evidence-based advice for parents." We're not interested in the newest baby-rocker or what mom-fluencers are tweeting, we want to answer the serious questions that real parents have. Race, culture, class, economics and especially science are all important parts of parenting.

For AHCJ members, any science that affects parents and children – from fertility to pregnancy to birth to child-rearing up to age six – is our beat. Over the past few months, we have covered everything from unfair working practices at fertility clinics to the effects of mold on children to and a three-part series on toxins in the home. Selective mutism, immunities, AFM, breastfeeding, PCOS, child psychology, we do it all. A lot of our content is service-based and we like fun, fascinating stories with solid science behind them. We also run a lot of essays and hybrid essay/reported stories and our stories run 1,000-1,500 words. Our readership trends female but we love hearing about fatherhood issues too.


Laura McCallum, health & caregiving editor,  PBS Next Avenue

Next Avenue is a national, public media news and information website dedicated to serving people 50 and older. Our readers, most of whom are in their 50s and 60s, look to our Health and Caregiving sections for the latest information and insights regarding issues pertinent to this demographic. For the Health section, this includes overall health and well-being, fitness, mental health and the medical issues and diseases most associated with aging. For the Caregiving section, this includes long-term care decisions, end-of-life planning and care, caregiver support and resources, housing and assisted living and social services. I’m looking for fresh ideas within all of these categories. Please explain why your pitch is a good fit for Next Avenue’s audience, and please do a quick search on our website to determine whether we’ve already had a story just like it. Please also explain why you are the writer we should hire for the story and why the story is timely.

(rate varies, starting at $350)


Candice Clark, Rural Health Quarterly

Rural Health Quarterly (RHQ) is a national rural health news magazine published by the F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. RHQ explores all issues related to rural health care. The readership for RHQ includes rural health care providers, researchers, educators and policy makers. RHQ accepts freelance pitches for stories of any length that cover timely and relevant rural health topics. RHQ stories should help readers understand the complex and often unique health care challenges faced by rural America. Stories about innovative programs and rural health success stories are also welcome.

(Pay varies.)


Lila Guterman, deputy news editor, Science

Science Magazine publishes news and feature stories online and in print. We seek pitches related to science research or policy, but not health or health care stories without a significant research component. We have staff reporters covering a lot of biomedical fields, so we look for pitches for unique angles or stories we haven’t read elsewhere; this year, we are particularly interested in neuroscience pitches. Our features need an investigative or narrative arc, so if you are pitching a longer piece, please give a sense of not only what your story is but how you plan to report and tell it. Please check out our freelancer guidelines. (Pay varies.)


Cori Vanchieri, features editor, Science News

Science News is looking for feature pitches on the science behind the medical news. Stories that help science-interested readers understand where medical research is heading. We are also really into stories in chemistry, math and physics. Medical research in space!

Last year, most pitches I received were about babies and children. Need broader options this year. Profiles of researchers doing fascinating stuff are welcome! And we are always open for data visualization projects – if you’re good at data analysis and presentation, do tell!


Zahra Barnes, executive editor, Self

Since Self is a health and wellness service brand, we’re looking for stories that will help improve personal health or public health. When pitching a story, you should be able to answer the question: How is this helpful?

We have a few main categories of focus: health, fitness, food, beauty, love (think sex and relationships, both romantic and otherwise), and lifestyle (travel, money, career, home, productivity, and so on).

Right now we’re focusing almost exclusively on service journalism—stories that give people the information they need in order to take action. We’re typically looking for reported pieces that rely on research and expert insights. It’s not enough for a story to simply explain why something is the way it is; it should also help people understand what they can do with that information and how to apply it in their own lives in a practical, logistical, IRL sense. We are not accepting pitches for personal essays right now.

We’re especially excited to work more frequently with writers who are BIPOC, LGBTQ , or belong to other marginalized identities — and not just to write specifically or exclusively about your identity (unless you want to). Please see our pitch guide (including information about rates) here.


Ingrid Wickelgren, Spectrum

I edit long form features, and we are looking for narratives. We are also looking for unique angles on autism. Before pitching, please scan our previous deep dives to avoid repeating previous topics.

Plays off news stories are fair game, as are new angles or updates on topics covered in previous deep dives (as long as they are not niche topics). Please lead your pitch with the narrative and follow with your thesis and an outline of major points, including some of the people you plan to interview.
($1.50/word)


Betsy Agnvall, editor, Staying Sharp (AARP)

Staying Sharp, stayingsharp.aarp.org, is a “program that provides evidence-based information and actions you can take to maintain and improve your brain health as you age. It’s a relatively new platform for AARP that is free to AARP members and charges a small fee for a brain health assessment. Articles and activities are aimed at readers 50 and older who are interested in keeping their brain sharp as they age.

This is a platform for people who do not have memory problems or Alzheimer’s disease, but who want to harness the latest solid scientific research to keep their memory sharp and thinking focused. The articles are divided into six pillars of brain health with the acronym BE MORE: Be Social, Engage Your Brain, Manage Stress, Ongoing Exercise, Restorative Sleep and Eat Right. Each story connects current research to one of the pillars. Articles do not have to be based on a single study. Some—such as “Why Do You Get Brain Freeze?”—are interesting pieces about how the brain functions. Listacles are also popular, such as “7 Foods That Cause Brain Fog.”

Articles average 650 words; plus, head/deck suggestion, pull-quote idea, link to a relevant study and fact check material. They should ideally include two sources—more for longer articles—and at least one study cited. We also assign 350-word activities that are similar to how-to sidebars and connect science directly to things people can do to help preserve their brain health as they age. Pay is $1 per word.

The tone of these articles and activities should be conversational, engaging and quotable. We want people to go out to a party, picnic or book club and say, “Hey, did you know that ______?” Your job is to make that easy for them to do. Staying Sharp content should apply to readers’ lives. We try to avoid a focus on disease, which aarp.org handles. 

Most of the content is behind an AARP membership wall, but you can find out more about the platform here.


Gary Emerling, Healthiest Communities, U.S. News & World Report

Healthiest Communities from U.S. News & World Report is a narrative- and data-driven platform focused on the social determinants of health. We’re looking for compelling, solutions-oriented stories focused on people, organizations and places that are seeking to improve community health by improving the factors that form communities.

This could mean a city, county or nonprofit’s efforts to provide safe and affordable housing, barbers partnering to help clients lower their blood pressure or a birth center aiming to curb maternal mortality among women of color. We’re looking for geographic diversity, and for writers who know a good story when they see one.

(Approx. $250 for 800 words; potential for more)


Valarie Basheda, director of news and special reports, WebMD

WebMD seeks stories that make sense of health news and emerging trends to help readers understand what it means for them. We strive to go beyond first-day headlines and dive deeper into topics to provide value for our readers. Our stories synthesize and convey information in an engaging and informative way that avoids jargon and speaks to readers in language they understand. Pitches should explain why a story is significant and why we should publish it now. Make sure your pitch has a clear focus and that you include data and research to back it up. What is new and different about your idea that makes it interesting? Also think visually – are there any images or video we can use, or graphics we can create that could go with your story? All our news is reviewed by WebMD’s medical doctors for medical accuracy in addition to content editing from our news team. Make sure your sources are credible and in sync with those we use on the site (every news story has a source box).

(Pay varies.)


Laura J. Downey, editor, WebMD

WebMD seeks stories that make sense of health news and emerging trends to help readers understand what it means for them. The website and magazine go beyond first-day headlines and dive deeper into lifestyle topics to provide value for readers. Our stories synthesize and convey information in an engaging and informative way that speaks to readers in language they understand, from first-person pieces that allow everyday people to share what it’s like living with said condition, to celebrity profiles and the coverage of timely topics including social justice and COVID-19 to health care and homelessness.

Pitches should explain why a story is significant. Make sure it has a clear focus and include data and research to back it up. What is new and different about your idea that makes it interesting? Also, think visually — are there any images or video we can use, or graphics we can create to go with your story? All content is reviewed by WebMD’s medical doctors for accuracy in addition to line editing from our editorial team. Use credible experts that align with those we provide in our guidelines for acceptable sources (almost every story has a source box).

(Pay varies)


Coordinator: Jeanne Erdmann, independent journalist

Jeanne Erdmann is an award-winning health and science writer based in Wentzville, Mo. Her work has appeared in Discover, Real Simple, Family Circle, Women’s Health, Spectrum, The Washington Post, Nature, Nature Medicine and other publications. She is co-founder and editor-at-large at The Open Notebook, a craft-focused website for science and health writers. She is the chair of AHCJ's Freelance Committee. You can follow her at @jeanne_erdmann.