Anthropology / Everything Human

Journalist Contributor

Journalist Contributor

In addition to our extensive contributions from anthropologists, SAPIENS publishes news (400–800 words), features (1,500–3,500 words), and film and book reviews (up to 1,200 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 of 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 grappled with the motivation of rescuers during a genocide, questioned whether there are biological underpinnings to violence, explored whether color perception is universal, delved into research on humanity’s first fires, and much more.

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 a look at the oldest known Homo sapiens fossils, a discovery that places humans in North America much earlier than previously thought, the role of climate in early human migration, and a diamond mine’s threat to Stone Age artifacts, to name just a few.

We also welcome pitches for book and film reviews, such as this clever analysis of the film The Anthropologist.

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, feature, or review of a book or film?
  • 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.)

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

          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. Email news, review, and feature pitches to Daisy Yuhas: [email protected].