Writing for openDemocracy
openDemocracy is an independent global media organisation.
Through reporting and analysis of social and political issues, we seek to educate citizens to challenge power and encourage democratic debate across the world.
We publish written and multimedia content in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Arabic from all corners of the world, and by all types of people – from established to aspiring journalists, career academics to PhD students, representatives of international NGOs to grassroots activists, lawyers, educators, previously unheard voices from around the world – to name a few.
We are particularly interested in hearing from groups that are under-represented in the media.
How to do it
You can send us either a short proposal, or 'pitch', or a full article. If you send a full article, though, please put a summary of no more than 150 words at the top of it.
Please familiarise yourself with our content. It is useful to check previous coverage of the topic you are addressing, so your proposal complements rather than duplicates it.
Please read the guidelines below for our specialist topics and regions before submitting. If your pitch relates to one of these topics or regions, put it at the start of your proposed title.
If we want you to take your submission on, one of our editors will email you to explain what happens next.
We regret that we cannot respond individually to all the submissions we get. If we are interested in taking your idea further, we aim to respond within three weeks.
If you don’t hear from us, though, don’t lose heart! It doesn’t mean your pitch was bad – it may just be that we didn’t have the capacity to take it on.
Please tell us if you have published a similar article elsewhere, either on the web or in print, providing links if possible.
If you are responding to an article published on our site, please consider posting your response as a comment on the article itself.
We do not commit to pay for publishing submitted content – although some projects have funding that allows this this, as outlined below.
Topic and regional guidelines
Women's and LGBTIQ rights
Our 50.50 project publishes investigative journalism and critical commentary challenging the exclusion of women's and LGBTIQ voices from public debates around the world. We welcome pitches from women, LGBTIQ people and people of colour – but please don't send us fully written pieces. We pay for everything we publish, with the rare exception of pieces by people writing as part of their job.
ourEconomy, openDemocracy’s economics project, welcomes pitches from journalists, writers and researchers around the world that share its values and goals: a commitment to building a fairer and more sustainable economic system. Writers should send a short pitch of no more than 300 words outlining the key points of the proposed story and why openDemocracy readers should care about it. The pitch should include a working headline and a proposed word count. We particularly welcome pitches covering the following:
- analysis and commentary covering economic affairs in a specific country or region of the world, discussing the types of policies that are needed to create a fairer and more sustainable economy;
- reporting and investigations that challenge corporate power and/or use human stories to spotlight unreported social and environmental injustices;
- engaging features exploring a particular aspect of our economic system and why it needs to change, or highlighting examples of local initiatives that are putting new economic ideas into practice from the ground up.
If you haven’t written for us before, include links to recently published work. If there is a news peg for the piece, mention it within the first few lines of your pitch. Contributors will be remunerated at a competitive rate on a per-article basis.
Forced labour, trafficking and slavery
Beyond Trafficking and Slavery explores the root causes of forced labour, trafficking and slavery with academic rigour and journalistic clarity. Please indicate what expertise your proposal is based on, and why you think BTS is the appropriate outlet for it. We pay for everything we publish, with the exception of pieces by people writing as part of their job.
Political funding and transparency
Our Dark Money Investigations project asks who is bankrolling British politics. We want to get past donor anonymity to find out the whole story. We will consider pitches up to 150 words but not full stories. A strong idea will have several components. We will pay for published work.
- Documentation or evidence is essential. Speculating or having a hunch does not rise to the level of a news idea.
- A strong news idea should articulate a clear and understandable issue or problem with real-world consequences. Be specific.
- Finally, an investigative idea should be newsworthy. (Eg. While we agree it is unfair that your neighbour is stealing cable, we would not write a story about it.)
The democraciaAbierta project focuses on the main challenges facing Latin America and the world: quality of democracy, climate emergency and environmental crisis, violence, minority rights, attacks on the media, inequality and gender.
When submitting an article to democraciaAbierta, please take the following considerations into account:
- Our readers belong to countries with diverse sensitivities and cultures, and they make up an audience that is international and informed, but not necessarily specialised, both in Latin America and globally.
- Articles should use precise but understandable language. Avoid technicalities, the proliferation of acronyms and footnotes (if necessary, insert references as a hyperlink within the body of the text).
- Articles must contain a minimum of 800 words (for opinion articles) and a maximum of 2,000 words (for longer articles). Exceptions will be received and be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
We also accept audiovisual, photographic, or podcast material.
Middle East and North Africa
Our North Africa, West Asia project publishes analysis and reporting that reflects the vibrant diversity of voices, cultures and peoples in a region often reduced to a homogeneous whole. We are looking for
- political analysis that add something new to current events
- stories from the ground about marginalised people in the region
- local perspectives
We are open to either pitches or full articles as submissions. We do not pay for unsolicited content, unless it is by journalists who are intending to do reporting or investigation. We do not pay for unsolicited opinion or analysis pieces. Please include a summary when submitting a full article or content.
Eurasia and the post-Soviet nations
oDR is a non-partisan media platform that covers political and social developments in the post-Soviet space. We work with activists, journalists and researchers to publicise issues that are either censored or left behind by mainstream discourse.
We cover topics that are underrepresented in most other media outlets: environment, gender, labour, minority and human rights, social inequality, migration, freedom of expression, cultural politics and media critique.
These themes reflect deeper inequalities, whether hierarchies of voice or hierarchies of institutional power, and we are committed to exploring a common progressive agenda in Eurasia.
We are looking for insightful, provocative and unexpected pieces. Straight news is not a good fit for us — though if your topic is particularly compelling, we may ask you to expand on it.
We prioritise good writing and authors that seek not merely to educate, but engage the audience — we want your material to resonate deeply with our readers. This is why we're committed to building long-standing and productive relationships with contributors.
Our work is aimed at a general international audience. We want to see critical, original pieces written to engage with an intelligent but non-specialist readership.
Your political standpoint is unimportant, though it is crucial that you engage with the articles and subjects featured here, or with recent developments that are topical and relevant. We will consider all submissions but reserve the right to select what we publish. Quality is key, and editorial decisions will be final. We expect good use of hyperlinks and referencing when appropriate, and request that jargon be avoided or clearly explained.
We prefer to receive pitches rather than submitted texts.
- Features should be under 2,500 words. Note that, depending on the topic, being concise and staying within 2,000 words tends to be beneficial for a lot of analytical pieces
- Opinion pieces should be under 1,500 words. Once again, staying below that limit and being concise will, more often than not, help you emphasise your point
- what approach the author plans to take,
- who they are going to interview, if anyone,
- what data sources and evidence they're going to use,
- their expertise in the subject,
- the broad thrust of their argument and
- any previous published work on the subject.
We will pay for published work.
Copyright & syndication
When openDemocracy has paid for an article to be written, we own the copyright. When no money has changed hands, copyright remains with the author.
To assure our writers gain as much exposure as possible around the world, openDemocracy has adopted a Creative Commons licence for much of its content.
openDemocracy assumes the right to syndicate your writing. Any revenue generated is shared equally between openDemocracy and the author.
We further assume the right to include your work in other republication agreements, such those with academic institutions and in printed journal publications.
Requests to authors
If openDemocracy has published your work and another publication or website approaches you wishing to republish it, please ask them to send an email to [email protected] so that we can negotiate fees and handle administration.
What our authors say
“Thank you for what you are doing, as a feminist journalist who often finds journalistic spaces really intimidating and exclusionary, because of how they are dominated by patriarchal ideas and masculinity. It’s such a breath of fresh air to even hear about the idea of feminist investigative journalism.” 2018 journalism fellow
“It really means a lot especially given this is the first time I've written something like this and published it… I really appreciate being given the opportunity to hold space for my voice :)” First time (activist) writer
"Writing for openDemocracy gives me a remarkable opportunity to provide contemporary analysis on security issues for many thousands of informed people across the world.
"I find it hugely satisfying because it goes far beyond the readerships that most academics can reach. It is a demanding process and means that you really have to be on top of your subject, but the reward of being able to engage with opinion formers, journalists, teachers, students and many others more than compensates for that." Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University
“I found openDemocracy by chance, and corny as it sounds they’ve transformed my writing life. Their willingness to put in the extra work editing helps me shape my precious but convoluted articles into something readable.” Deborah Padfield (Citizens Advice Bureau adviser, Cambridge)
“The effects [of publishing my article on openDemocracy] were quite significant: I was invited to meet government ministers, including a cabinet minister, as well as the Trades Union Congress.” Carlota Perez, honorary professor at the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London
"I write for openDemocracy for the same reasons I read it: its internationalism, its rigour of thought and the astonishing wealth of wisdom and debate in its pages. Writing for such a challenging audience and in the company of such excellent writers has a way of pulling your best work from you.
"As a hack, writing for openDemocracy has two juicy advantages. The first is that it is very difficult to persuade the news editor of a British tabloid to take 1,000 words on the injustices of global trade rules. Secondly (and this is not for the faint-hearted), the readers do not suffer fools gladly, if at all." Tom Burgis, freelance journalist
openDemocracy never gives out email addresses or other contact details of any of the authors we publish.
Our policy when approached for author contact is to forward the request to the author.
We ask that you provide us with contact details that reflect the often very short lead-in times of online media. If you do not check your emails regularly, please provide us with a telephone number.
Please use this form to send us your pitch or article. By submitting your work here, you are giving us permission to make reasonable edits and publish it under your name.