A woman writing, 2016. Photo: WOCinTech Chat/Flickr. CC-BY-2.0
openDemocracy 50.50 is a one-of-a-kind platform for in-depth coverage of gender, sexuality and social justice – worldwide. We focus on underreported issues and underrepresented perspectives – and publish 3-4 pieces each week, from frontline activists and scholars as well as from experienced journalists.
Empowering new voices and hearing directly from women, girls, and gender nonconforming people leading struggles for social justice is important to us. We publish first-time writers and we’re particularly interested in proposals from writers from communities historically excluded in the media, including sex workers and indigenous women.
We will work with you on your writing – but this means we may be more limited in terms of the number of pieces we can accept. Our goal is not just to publish critical reporting and perspectives – but to inform, challenge and empower our growing audience. We want your articles to be widely read. Please be patient as we work to respond to all inquiries.
How to pitch
Please email short pitches, rather than fully-written pieces. These should be sent to 50.50's main email address including the word “pitch” in the subject line. Include a tight summary of your proposed article, in no more than two or three short paragraphs, along with a few notes about who you are, why you should write this piece, and why now. Tell us how it will add to or go beyond what has already been published (on 50.50 or elsewhere) on your chosen topic. Include links where possible. Let us know when you could submit the piece and if you have access to any relevant photos that could help illustrate your article.
50.50 is currently taking pitches for comment and analysis pieces of 800-900 words. Feature writing can run slightly longer, to 1200-1400 words. Pitches for investigations, first-person accounts, and photo essays are also welcome. Proposals with unique angles, underrepresented perspectives, and original analysis or reporting receive special attention. 50.50 has limited capacity at present to publish longer-form writing, multimedia, and pieces in languages other than English.
We strongly encourage co-authored articles between writers from different backgrounds and levels of experience. Please note that we receive an overwhelming number of pitches and tend to prioritise articles by women, trans and non-binary writers.
Guidelines for writers
Write to be read – by a wide and international audience. This means: avoid jargon, write clearly and concisely, spell out acronyms, and explain who “Gove and Osborne” are (for example). Language should not be cryptic. (For instance: can “instrumentalising” be expressed in a simpler, clearer way?) The goal is not to test the reader but to invite them in.
Aim to use precise, but also inclusive, language. Write to be easily and widely understood. Prioritise shorter sentences and paragraphs, and write primarily in the active voice (for example: “the NGO said...” rather than “...was said by the NGO”). Many readers access our articles on mobile devices; keep this in mind (very long paragraphs, for example, can be overwhelming).
Write to be read – by a wide and international audience.
Sources matter, and should always be referenced. Tell the reader not just what you know, but how you know it. Not sometimes – all the time. Use examples to illustrate your points. Wherever possible, insert hyperlinks to facilitate fact-checking by us and by your readers. Apply the same critical eye to data as you would to anything else and source it accordingly. Note for instance that “said,” “explained,” and “argued,” are not synonyms. Repetition is better than inaccuracy.
For consistency, use this format (1 January 2017) for dates and British English spelling (eg. “-ise” not “-ize”); italicise words in other languages, eg. jirga; spell out numbers below 11 in full (eg. ten); write large numbers like: 2.4 million; use % not percent. Capitalise titles, and proper nouns, but little else. When submitting a story, include photo suggestions (or, if you have your own pictures, remember to include captions and credits).
Special calls for submissions:
Current calls for submissions on specific themes will be posted here. Importantly, these are not intended to restrict your imagination in pitching to 50.50. And, if you have a suggestion for a special series, or a theme that you think 50.50 should look at, let us know.
Women's rights and the media. Deadline: Rolling
When is journalism about women's rights also activism? Do you have an untold story of sexism or gender discrimination within the media – or efforts to tackle this? Or a perspective on the ethics of campaigning journalism? This is an open call for pitches (from anywhere in the world) for comment, analysis and feature writing asking challenging questions under this broad theme through concrete examples. Read Claudia Torrisi's article – Monsters, jealousy and “sick love” – how the Italian media covers violence against women – for an example of a recently-published, related piece. Email us with pitches here.
Tracking the global backlash against women's rights. Deadline: Rolling
Growing and globalising networks of conservative and fundamentalist groups are pushing back against our sexual and reproductive rights. 50.50 investigates these trends, with your help. Read this extract from the Observatory on the Universality of Rights (OURs), a new initative monitoring anti-rights movements, and read some of our previous work as part of this investigation. What's happening where you are? Pitch us through the normal channels or contact our special projects editor Lara Whyte.
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