Pitch a Story to Next City

Next City publishes news stories reported and written by journalists, and op-eds written by academics and practitioners in the fields we cover: urban policy, planning, housing, economic development, transportation, tech, environmental sustainability, arts and urban culture, health and safety, and design. We center equity in every sector we cover. Next City firmly believes that nothing we do in cities matters if we do not make life more equitable for everyone. 

If you have a submission that promotes your organization’s specific projects or services, please see the “Sponsored Posts” section at the end.

News stories

We welcome well-considered pitches from journalists around the world. Most of our stories are 800 to 1,500 words. We especially encourage pitches from journalists belonging to marginalized communities, as well as those with lived experiences, professional expertise or academic backgrounds in the issues we cover.

Generally, we report on equitable economic development, urban policy and design, planning, transportation, environmental justice and sustainability, arts and culture and tech. Although we cover mostly U.S. cities, we occasionally publish international coverage as well. See a list of topics and themes our editors are particularly interested in right now.

Our stories generally have three major components:

  1. A solutions-based approach. As the Solutions Journalism Network describes, a solutions-oriented story should explore a response to a social issue, looking at how it works, evidence of its impact (or lack thereof), its limitations as an effective solution, and insights or lessons that others can glean from this response. Ideally, our stories will look at scalable and replicable solutions to the problems that oppress people in cities.

  2. An equity angle. Our stories look at how such solutions are impacting marginalized populations in particular, and we make a serious effort to feature the voices of marginalized individuals. This includes people experiencing homelessness, disabled, elderly, low-income, non-white, LGBTQ+ people and others often left behind by urban policy.

  3. A focus on the local. Our stories look at local solutions that liberate cities, neighborhoods and urban populations from systems of oppression. We don’t use a strict definition of what constitutes a city or urban area.

While we don’t often have story assignments, if you’re a writer without a pitch that is interested in contributing, fill out this form so we can reach out with any assignments that fit.

We are always looking to expand our roster of regular freelance writers. Writers who are the best fit for us have a deep understanding of the challenges facing cities — ranging from economic hardship and affordable housing shortages to transportation deserts and changing infrastructure — and the solutions posed to address those problems (whether effective or not). Our regular freelancers are committed to the extensive reporting required to explore these complex issues, and adept at translating “policy” to real human impact. We take solutions journalism seriously, and are currently the third most prolific contributor to the Solutions Journalism Network’s Story Tracker, behind only the New York Times and The Guardian.

A whopping 89% of Next City’s readers say that they or their organizations are working toward greater racial equity. And 74% of our readers use Next City for their jobs. We’re committed to bringing them smart reads about the solutions that can be replicated from one city to the next city. We seek to highlight a diverse array of voices and perspectives, and seek character-driven stories with a strong solutions orientation and explanatory approach.

We’re looking for specific story pitches, not topic ideas. (NPR offers this excellent primer on writing strong pitches.) Ideally, we would like to see a solid nut graf that explains the core of your story, and answers to the following questions:

  • Why tell this story now? What’s the news hook?

  • Why do Next City readers need to know about this? 

  • What’s the problem at the center? 

  • How does the solution you are writing about address the problem? You should have a general idea about possible solutions before pitching. “I want to explore … ” isn’t enough.

  • What evidence is there that the solution is effective? This can be initial findings or long-term analytics.

  • How does it translate to a broader urban policy context? 

  • Has it been covered elsewhere in the media? If so, how would your approach differ?

  • Which voices do you plan to include? We’re looking for experts who can offer authoritative insights and contexts, as well as sources whose personal experiences illustrate the human impact of this problem and solution.

  • Who are you and what’s your background or expertise in this area? Do you have any related clips? Have you written about this subject matter before? It’s OK if the answer is no.

Next City doesn’t cover events, conferences, symposia or meetings. But you certainly might get a lead on a great story at one. Pitch us after you’ve attended and looked into the idea. We also pass on Q&As, book reviews, history overviews, horse race journalism, white papers, academic treatises and fiction.

Direct all pitches to Aysha Khan, Senior Editor (aysha@nextcity.org). We strive to review and respond to all pitches in a timely fashion, but feel free to follow up within a week if your email falls through the cracks or if it is a time-sensitive story. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, so long as you disclose this and withdraw your pitch immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.

Next City pays freelancers a flat rate of $400 upon publication of a news story. (This rate may increase if we have received specific grant funding for the story or if we are co-publishing with another nonprofit news organization.)

Op-eds

Op-eds should be topical and relevant to Next City’s mission of inspiring equitable change in cities, and speak to ideas and policies that can lead to such change. They should express a strong, informed opinion. (If you’re writing solely about your organization or the specific work that you do, please see “Sponsored Posts,” below.)

All submissions must be original, and not published elsewhere. Maximum length is 1,200 words. We will not consider articles that have already been published, in any form, in print or online.

We pay a small honorarium for op-eds, but do not guarantee publication in advance of receiving a submission. 

To submit pieces for consideration, please email Aysha Khan, Senior Editor (aysha@nextcity.org), with “Op-Ed Submission” in the subject line. We review all emails with op-ed submissions, but unfortunately we can’t respond to every one. 

Sponsored Posts

Next City’s sponsored articles are the most effective, guaranteed way to tell the story about your company or organization’s work. Our sponsored content is labeled, lives on the site forever, includes roadblocked display ads and comes with a 500-page-view guarantee. We also offer sponsored webinars, which give you the chance to talk to our audience of changemakers directly. Find out more in our media kit and contact Eleanor Barba, Integrated Sales & Marketing Coordinator, for more information about these and other marketing opportunities with Next City.

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