Submission Guidelines

Submission Guidelines

The Chicago Journal is a general interest, digital publication with a focus on the political and cultural issues relevant to the city of Chicago and the surrounding metro area. This page describes our guidelines for writing, photography, and video submissions to the Chicago Journal.

If you’re hoping to contact us about anything else, including sending Letters to the Editor, visit our Contact Page.


Please understand that we are unable to reply to every query. If you have not heard back from an editor at the Chicago Journal within one week of your pitch, consider following up with another email. If you have not heard back from an editor at the Chicago Journal within two weeks of your pitch, feel free to consider pitching elsewhere.

The Chicago Journal will consider pitches for in-depth reportage, analysis, opinion, essays, or criticism. A strong pitch will articulate a clear understanding of a compelling story, and challenge readers to consider a perspective or reimagine ideas.


Writing Guidelines

The first step every writer should take is to study recent articles posted at chicagojournal.com.

All pitches should be emailed to submissions@chicagojournal.com and include the word “QUERY” in the subject line. No phone calls. The proposal should explain what your article would bring to the topic and should include sources and interview subjects you will consult. While you should include your credentials, our editors read proposals to evaluate writing skill and creativity of approach, and we encourage “unknown” authors to submit.

Standard pitches cover an array of topics relevant to readers in Chicago and the surrounding metro area and plan for a range from 800 – 2100 words. These are most often news analysis, opinion and commentary, essays, or criticism. We’re looking for deliberate, reasoned writing, and a good story well told. For interviews, please detail your access, your pitch, and the contact information for the interviewee or their representation so the Chicago Journal can confirm interest. For reviews, we are focused on artistic endeavors published within the last six months and focused on experiences that have a reasonable expectation of being available for six months beyond publication.

Feature pitches must include clips to your published work. Features include investigations, long-form narratives, extensive analysis, and thoughtful essays that are most commonly 2,500 words or more. Features are most often assigned to professional journalists and writers, but the Chicago Journal will consider feature pitches from independents in situations with undefined special access. Please do not consider pitching a feature unless you have a previous working relationship with the Chicago Journal or you’re uniquely qualified.

We pay upon publication. Fees vary widely, depending on the writer’s experience and our experience with the writer. Generally, we pay a flat fee per project/piece and rarely discuss pay per word. If a feature is accepted but ultimately declined, a kill fee of 25% for features is our standard rate.

Keep pitches between 200 and 300 words. Tell us, as clear and concise as possible, what the story is, its scope, and why the Chicago Journal is the best place to tell it.


Photo/Video Guidelines

We’re always looking for photographers, videographers, and artists who work in the Chicago region and are interested in the issues we cover. Typically, we reach out to photographers/videographers for stock or assignment on stories we already have in motion. We consider pitches for photo stories that give intimate looks at communities of Chicago and the surrounding area or people doing something unique. We rarely use unsolicited photos featuring only landscape or skyline images.

If you have a photo story or essay you’d like to pitch, or if you want to introduce us to your work, please send a link or a selection of images for review to photos@chicagojournal.com. We need quality, high-resolution images saved as JPEG files, at 300 dpi or higher. For larger files, send via electronic transfer or a private portfolio on the web.

Submissions should include the photographer’s/videographer’s name as it is to appear in the credit line and a description of the place or name of the subject for the caption. We also need the photographer’s/videographer’s name, address, and phone number for payment purposes and our files.

Prices for individual photographs range from $10 for singles to up to $100 for a web gallery. We pay for work upon publication.

The Chicago Journal’s purchase includes the right to publish the photograph/art on our website and other digital efforts, including social media and newsletters, and to archive it on our website. Other commercial uses will be negotiated.

The Chicago Journal may also agree to display work with no fees and no rights held, particularly with regards to sharing and linking on affiliated social media accounts.


Additional Information

We publish general contributions from all freelancers on our standard copyright terms and payment is at our regular rates, unless agreed otherwise before publication.

This guide is subject to change. Please check back periodically.

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