Journalist Contributor

Thank you for your interest in writing for SAPIENS. Please note that we are currently not considering new pitches from journalists.

In addition to our extensive contributions from anthropologists, SAPIENS publishes news (400–800 words) and features (1,500–3,500 words) by journalists.

In line with our mission to bring anthropology to the public, our stories need to engage with anthropological research. Anthropology is a rich and multidisciplinary area of study, encompassing cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, physical anthropology, and archaeology.

We place anthropologists (individuals with a Ph.D. in anthropology or members of an anthropology department) and their research at the center of our stories. And we want all our pieces to help general readers learn about how anthropologists bring a distinct lens to the areas that they study—and ultimately, how anthropology can bring crucial insights about humanity into the public dialogue.

Features should be deeply reported and should draw on concrete anthropological research and perspectives, while also engaging readers with well-crafted storytelling. Our features have explored how anthropologists are bringing novel approaches to such nettlesome questions as defining food deserts, the nature of generosity, the meaning of “invasive” species, and more. Journalist contributors have also unspooled narratives that explore trends in the field—whether re-creating ancient brews and bakes or ongoing efforts to dismantle the legacy of colonialism in anthropology.

We favor features that use a “narrative” treatment, meaning we like our writers to emphasize classic tools of storytelling such as scene setting, character development, and a clear throughline. A good story, we would argue, opens with some element of tension, pulling a reader in, and closes with at least a hint at resolution.

We also cover news about anthropological findings that are fascinating and relevant to a broad, general-interest audience. Our prior news coverage includes notable discoveries, such as a record-breaking trove of mammoth bones, and careful coverage of new research, such as the studies into hominin extinctions and new theories regarding the ancient site of Herculaneum.

We especially encourage pitches from members of the following organizations or sites: the Native American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Asian American Journalists Association, South Asian Journalists Association, Association of LGBTQ Journalists, Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association, Trans Journalists Association, and Disabled Writers Site. If you are a member of one of these organizations, please mention it in your pitch.

To determine whether your idea is a good fit for SAPIENS, we need to get a sense of how you might turn your ideas into a compelling story. (We are looking for stories, not topics.) Your pitch should answer these questions:

  • Is your story a potential news piece or feature?
  • What is the heart of the story? If you were to distill your piece’s central message into a few sentences, what would it be?
  • How does anthropological research figure into the article you’ve proposed? What about this story will help general readers grasp the ways anthropology brings vitality, nuance, and insight to particular issues?
  • What’s new in the idea you’re pitching? Why is now the time to write about it?
  • How will you approach the structure of the piece? Where might the story begin and end? What is the journey that the story will take readers on? Your pitch should give us a sense of your writing ability.
  • Who will you interview? Who do you envision being your central characters and sources? (Please include the names of current anthropologists—scholars with either a Ph.D. in anthropology or members of an anthropology department—who will bring critical perspective to your story.)
  • SAPIENS is committed to bringing historically marginalized voices—such as by race, ethnicity, gender identity, geography, or ability—to the center of public conversations. How does your own background or perspective, or the background, perspectives, or research to be covered in your piece contribute to this goal?

You can find some excellent examples of pitches—including a few from past SAPIENS stories—in The Open Notebook’s pitch database.

All of our written pieces must be new, original writing, with no portion previously published in any form—unless the piece is explicitly an excerpt, republication, or adaptation, as agreed upon with the SAPIENS editors.

See our style guide.

SAPIENS pays journalists US $1 per published word. Frequent feature contributors receive an increase to US $1.10 upon their third feature assignment and later US $1.25 upon their sixth feature assignment.

Email us with “Pitch” in the subject line and the content in plain text in the body of your email (no attachments). Include “Urgent” or “News” when pitching time-sensitive or breaking stories. Please also tell us a little about yourself—your background and qualifications for writing a particular story.

Note that if you are not a journalist contributor, but an anthropologist, please see our anthropology pitch process.