Writers' Guidelines 

Last Updated: March 22, 2016

East Bay Express Freelance Guidelines
The Express publishes freelance material 52 weeks of the year. It always excites us to discover new writers because we believe that keeping the Express open to outside contributors makes for a less predictable, more interesting paper.

What Sections Accept Freelance Work?
At the moment, we run freelance stories of various lengths in the news, arts and culture, and music sections. Our needs are explained below in more detail.

What is Your Coverage Area?
We focus our coverage on the following cities or areas: Albany, Alameda, Berkeley, Castro Valley, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Emeryville, Hayward, Kensington, Oakland, Piedmont, Richmond, San Leandro, and San Lorenzo.

We certainly will entertain pitches from elsewhere in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, but will assign those stories only where we feel they will resonate with our core readers. And while we welcome timely pitches with a connection to national or international affairs, all stories must have a strong local hook for us to be interested.

What Type of Stories Are You Seeking?
While each section has its own needs, certain values unite all our coverage. The Express is interested in well-reported local news, cover story features, arts and cultures stories, and music stories, with an emphasis on the East Bay in all its cultural, racial, economic, and geographic diversity.

The East Bay is one of the most ethnically diverse metropolitan areas in the nation. We aspire for our coverage to be similarly diverse.

In general, we are looking for in-depth magazine-style articles about local people, places, and events. What catches our eye is well-crafted reporting, not personal observations or the unsupported opinions of the writer. Stylistic experimentation is encouraged if it's grounded in reporting or personal observations. But we want stories, not dry coverage of dull-but-important "issues." Rather than survey pieces on a topic, we want articles with a cinematic attention to characters and story structure. A strong point of view is not necessary but welcome, as long as the writer can back it up.

We tend not to publish personal essays or Q&As. On occasion we run essay-type stories as cover features, but these must be original, compelling, and solidly backed by reporting.

An interest in ideas has always typified the coverage of the Express, and that interest remains today. We like articles that simultaneously tell a story while also illustrating a larger idea. The more levels your journalism works on, the more likely we will be interested in it.

What Type Of Stories Won't You Run?
- We don't want stories that lack a strong East Bay connection.

- We do not currently publish freelance restaurant reviews.

- We do not currently publish freelance film or book reviews.

- We do not currently publish freelance photography.

How Do I Approach You?
Editors generally prefer to be queried via e-mail. Please bear in mind that it is not good form to send a query to several publishers at once. Nor is it proper to submit a "rewritten" version of an article that has appeared elsewhere without informing us in advance and sending along a copy of the previously published version. When you first pitch, include information about yourself and your level of experience, with links, if available, to any previously published work. If you don't get a response by email, it's okay to follow up and pester us by phone. Public relations pitches are generally frowned upon.

Freelance Opportunities by Section

NEWS: Front of The Book
We publish freelance news items and short features ranging from about 750 to about 1,200 words. We aim to run news articles on a very wide range of topics. Business stories, consumer issues, science topics, and demographics interest us just as much, if not more than, the typical alternative newsweekly fare of environmentalism, planning issues, race relations, government, and politics. We prefer hard-hitting, cleverly crafted news features that break news, although we're also open to some soft features. All stories should exceed the daily newspaper treatment, and advance the story considerably if it is a story the dailies have already covered.

We welcome your ideas for unconventional story approaches. We like both long and short, words and graphics, sidebars and charts.

We also should note that our coverage does not presume that all our readers share a specific ideology. We are just as interested in coverage of "conservative" issues as "progressive" ones, and far more interested in new ways of looking at issues than the predictable lefty ideology that typifies the coverage of some alternative newsweeklies. Real life is full of nuance. There is humanity in the villains and villainy in the humane. We want our coverage to be nuanced and as close to the truth as possible. Sometimes we go out on a limb with an idea, but we do not preach to the choir.

News stories range in price from $120 to $240. Please e-mail a detailed description of the story you hope to write along with relevant writing samples to staff writer Darwin BondGraham, who can be reached by clicking here. Please follow up by phone at 510-879-3733.

NEWS: Cover Features
We're interested in stories on almost any possible topic. We place a high premium on good writing, thorough reporting, and interesting ideas. Before you pitch, remember that we want stories, not general subjects. We suggest you look at past covers to get a feel for the kind of stories we publish. The pay is $600. Stories generally run from 2,500 to 4,000 words -- although we'll go as high in 5,000 words in cases that truly warrant the length. We encourage you to think of ways to break up the story using sidebars, boxes, and graphic elements, which make for a more interesting read. When you pitch such a story, you should have already made contact with the key players and know that you have access to what you need. We tell our own writers the same thing. Include a detailed description of the story you hope to write, and links to relevant writing samples. Address hard-news inquiries to staff writer Darwin BondGraham, who can be reached by clicking here. Please follow up by phone at 510-879-3733. Address arts and culture cover story inquiries to managing editor Sarah Burke, who can be reached by clicking here. Please follow up by phone at 510-879-3722.

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