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Mill pitching guide: What we want to publish and how to get in touch
The Mill is looking to commission stories from talented writers and reporters in Greater Manchester and across the North. We are on the hunt for great journalists who want to contribute stories regularly, whether that’s every few weeks or every few months, but also people who have one sensational idea to contribute. Please read this guide before getting in touch — the contact details are at the bottom.
(If you have already been commissioned by us and you want to understand our editing process, style guide and invoicing system, please click here).
What we’re looking for
Like any news organisation we are interested in great news scoops, so please do bring us those. We are good at working on exclusives and stories that take lots of reporting work, and our staff writers and editors will be able to help you advance the story and get it ready for publication.
But unlike many local newspapers these days, we also really care about good writing. Every week we try to publish pieces that are beautifully crafted and that really speak to readers through the power of their prose. That might mean capturing the dialogue between two 17-year-old girls you interview, articulating the strange paranoia of a community, or synthesising the history of a place via the experience of one person. These features can be 700 words or thousands of words long.
Mill stories are supposed to help readers understand their world better, which means doing good old-fashioned journalism by speaking to people and doing proper research and then explaining the context of what you are reporting. How has this policy you are writing about changed? What is driving the uptick in the type of crime you are covering? Gathering really high-quality evidence - from academic papers or by speaking to university researchers or authors of well-researched books about the topic - is important for this.
We also want really interesting human stories at the heart of a lot of our journalism. A lot of stories these days - particularly quick-hit journalism online - lack human depth. Stories are most interesting when they have people at the centre of them. That doesn’t mean you can’t zoom out and explain the trend behind the story or the forces shaping this trend in society - you should. But it means putting people and their experiences at the heart of what we write.
Topics we are interested in
We’re open to any topic, as long as it has a strong link to Greater Manchester, and will be interesting and informative to our audience. Our readers are doctors, teachers, lawyers, carers, site managers, publishers, counsellors, university professors and entrepreneurs in Manchester and its surrounding area. They care about culture, crime, history, housing, politics, business, education, the environment, health, inequality and all the things you might read about in The Times or The Guardian or The Economist.
We want surprising pitches about things you don’t tend to read about in local or regional media - stories that you could imagine being published in a national newspaper or a global magazine.
We probably aren’t looking for:
Stories that feel familiar because they have been covered lots of times before. We will cover these stories but only if the angle is fresh and the information is new.
Stories that feel like puff pieces for a company or a project. Anything that is based on a press release is a no.
Pitches that just say “Here’s an interesting issue - I’ll speak to a few experts about it”. We never want these general pitches - we need a specific angle, a new development or an amazing human story that readers won’t forget reading.
Formats and fees
A lot of our stories will be news features ranging from 700 words to 1400 words. News features are supposed to be both well-reported and well-written, and our readers really appreciate good writing - well-observed moments and nice turns of phrase.
We will also sometimes publish straight news stories - new figures we’ve obtained via FOI, or a story like this one we broke about a new police investigation into grooming in Rochdale.
We will agree a fee with you when we commission a story, and there’s lots of variation depending on what the piece involves - from £75 for a review to £400 for a deeply reported piece. A common fee for our commissions is around £150, but we’ve paid a wide range of fees depending on the work that goes into the story and the experience of the writer (more experienced writers tend to require less editing time on our stories).
Please make sure you have read lots of Mill journalism before you pitch. It’s the biggest factor that determines whether a pitch works for us: whether the journalist really knows what kinds of stories we do and how we do them.
How to pitch
Email your ideas to email@example.com, and please allow a week for us to get back to you because we consider most of our pitches in batches. In your email please include:
what the idea is and how you would write it.
why it’s interesting to readers now.
a few links to stories or blogs showing how you write.
Don’t feel the need to write a long email - a good pitch can be five or six sentences.
Once you have been commissioned, take a look at our guide to freelancing for The Mill — it explains our editing process, what we expect from writers, and how to invoice.
Examples of great pieces
Here are some fantastic freelance stories we have published in the past few years.