Tips for freelancers submitting to The Mountain News
The Mountain News is an on-line news magazine that tells great stories about the land and people surrounding Mount Rainier. We generally cover from Puyallup to Roy and Yelm, Eatonville, Ashford and Morton, and of course, Mt. Rainier.
We are dedicated to telling important stories about our home that you will not find anywhere else – not in the Tacoma News Tribune, KOMO-TV or in Facebook. The Mountain News is not a blog. Rather, we are a magazine that offers full-length, well-crafted stories that have meat-on-the-bone, along with shorter columns and newsy pieces.
To those ends, we publish short “local-news” items, columns on culture and politics, and a variety of features.
Our columns are personal and narrative-driven, but they are not rants. Opinions expressed must be fact-based with sources noted.
Our main feature topics include crime and politics, especially the happenings of the 25th and 2nd LDs, and the 1st and 3rd Council Districts in Pierce County.
In addition, we cover business events, especially emerging trends and buy-local initiatives. We are particularly interested in profiles of remarkable men and women – and youth. We showcase folks who make our lives better by doing something extraordinary, even if it may appear on the surface to be mundane.
We are excited about spirituality, and look for stories of people becoming greater than what they have been. Stories of transformation, and accounts of miraculous healings always get our attention.
Women’s Issues are of special interest, as are stories of discrimination.
The Mountain News has a deep interest in stories of self-reliance, such as unique home businesses and people becoming sovereign on their lands. Along those lines, we have a keen interest in stories of the environment, such as innovative programs to help restore Mother Nature, alternative energy, and how-to’s on the skills of simple country living.
We also champion pets and animals, and any story of abuse or scandal will receive our piercing journalistic eye.
How to Pitch the Mountain News
Email is the best way to send us a query. If your story is already written, please paste the text in the copy on the email. No attachments please, unless we have made direct contact and The Mountain News has expressly desired your attachments. If your story is long, only send the first three or four pages.
Your emails must be well-written, using standard literary format and composition. If u send me txt mail type copy, u r so outta my life!!!
No emoticons, bold face, or other expressive crapola will be tolerated. No excessive use of slang or imitations of accents.
In general, anything you send me must be easy on my eyeballs. Hence, double-spaced Times New Roman, 12 point and black ink is prefered for copy; single-space in emails, however. Double-spacing between sentences is mandatory, despite whatever your teachers have told you. Block paragraphing is fine; so is the traditional literary style of half-inch indents. Basically, using the style that this page has will get you read.
If you are uncertain how to proceed with a pitch, or you’re having problems getting a response from us, such as emails bouncing back to you, feel free to call me at (360) 832-6248. I always have five minutes to chat about a good story. No calls after 10 pm or before noon, though.
If you have to leave a message, please be brief, i.e.: no more than three or four sentences, with the first introducing yourself and how you heard about The Mountain News. In the second sentence, tell me the theme of the story, i.e.: It’s a piece about my neighbor who bought a farm that had been a meth lab, and now he’s cleaned it up and turning it into a community garden….”
Lastly, tell me how I can get in touch with you; phone number, email address, best time to call, etc.
I see our pay rate, when the MN has funds, going something like this: a sliding scale of 10 and 15 cents for basic stories; 20, 25 and 30 cents for features and investigations; while 50 cents and a buck a word go for earth-shaking copy.
To whit: ten cents per word is for a professional writer just starting out. It would be a skill level comparable to where I was when I started with the Dispatch in 2006. Good basic writing skills in hand, but needs polishing and focus, and probably more compositional depth. With a writer at this level I would have to spend a fair amount of time working on the article and deliver some professional mentoring. 15 cents reflects real growth in these areas.
The 20 cent level would be for someone who can deliver a solid article on time and the piece would only need tweaking from me. 25 cents would be for more investigative articles that are probing, needs lots of facts checked, and address a story that is complex.
The 30 cents level is for someone who can turn in a variety of articles – features to news – that are compelling. They are well-written and ready to go to print. I don’t have to do anything other than give it a look-see. These kinds of stories would drive readers to our web page.
50 cents is for a writer who takes the MN into new territory with original and dynamic stories that possess gripping detail, buoyed with exceptional writing skills, and glow with sublime compositional chops. These stories trigger word-of-mouth growth in our readership and ad sales.
A buck and more a word goes to a writer who, well, let’s get ready for a Pulitzer.
When the MN has funds, our policy will be to pay upon submission. The writer maintains copyright and we purchase the rights to put the piece on our web site and keep it in our archives indefinitely. If we decide we want to do something extra to the piece, such as make a compendium of related stories, the MN will negotiate a flat rate payment for that project.
The MN will pay a sliding scale for photographs and videos. Pix will range from $10-25 per picture depending on quality and context, and TMN will have the right to re-publish it a few times. If we use it more than three times we will negotiate a flat-rate payment for unlimited usage. Videos will be decided on a case-by-case basis according to prevailing industry standards, which are unknown to me at this time (Feb. 2011).
Bruce A. Smith, Publisher
(360) 832-6248 – Best times to call are afternoons and evenings.