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Scalawag is interested in untold stories, fresh perspectives, and original thought covering the nuances of life, politics, and culture in the American South. We publish nonfiction, poetry, and fiction, as well as political coverage and photo essays.
For journalistic writing: If you're interested in working on a story that falls into any of the following categories, please send your pitch in the body of an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with an indication in the subject line as to which focus area your work falls into.
We pay every contributor.
We're currently seeking stories that fit into the following content verticals:
Arts & Soul
We believe in art and poetry's ability to name that which otherwise can be almost impossible to articulate. Indeed some of the greatest power in Southern art comes in its ability to illuminate the infinite registers of life here—all its profound beauty and haunting cruelty. The South has birthed a cataclysm of brilliant and radical visual art, prose, and music, we want to amplify and share this radical brilliance with our readers.
For our "Arts and Soul" content, Scalawag wants your album/lit/art/show/film reviews. A successful review is one that profiles established and emerging musicians, artists, and authors here in the South while critically and personally engaging the work in the context of the current political and social moment and the artistic traditions at play.
In particular, we seek works on the following themes: rural South, queer South, migrations, emerging traditions, Southern sounds, art as community-building, art and political organizing.
We welcome submissions from both emerging and established art makers, cultural organizers, and writers. Multimedia submissions are welcome. Photoessays should be 8-10 photos with an introduction and detailed captions, or a full length essay (800-1000 words). Other writings should range between 500 and 1500 words.
Race & Place
To riff from Katherine McKittrick ("Black matters are spatial matters"), we believe that race matters are place matters. The way we view and treat the places we're from and the places we make for our communities shape not just who we are, but also what we want our futures to be. And our ability to shape place for our desired futures is heavily shaped by the power dynamics of race, gender, sexuality, ability, and so on. The consequences of those power dynamics are everything from the treatment of Black spaces as "dumping grounds" to the bold creation of dance/pleasure clubs like Pulse in Orlando, by queer people of color—and their heinous destruction.
Scalawag's Race and Place initiative seeks to expand traditional conversations about environmental racism, climate change, segregation, gentrification, and freedom movements to better understand both the nuances of how places are made and for whom, and how we can transform power to create the future places of our dreams. We're looking for pitches that consider the connections between these conversations in places as big as nations and as small as living rooms. In particular, we're interested in reported pieces, essays, and even fiction about Black and Latinx rural placemaking, alternative relationships to land, connections between environmental racism and climate change, policing/incarceration and toxicity, radical placemaking for pleasure (e.g, dance clubs, social clubs), and classic investigative reporting on the impact of policies and economies on the placemaking of communities of color.
Stories should range from 800-1,500 words. Investigative articles can be up to 2,000 words. Multimedia submissions are also welcome.
Help us tell stories about people, policy and power.
Scalawag's political reporting centers the people and communities rallying collective power to change our political landscape.
We consider ourselves movement journalists—working in solidarity with those pushing back against the systems of oppression perpetuated in this region and beyond. We also want to hear from people who are not trained or working journalists but people who feel misrepresented or maligned by mainstream or traditional media coverage.
We're seeking pitches for reported stories (1,000 – 3,500 words) about elections, regressive policy, and the behind-the-scenes players who pass or block laws:
- What stories aren't getting coverage in your town?
- Who are the candidates, activists or mamas we need to be following?
- How do you see yourself & your values, your fears & dreams either fetishized or held sacred by those who hold power?
- Where are communities successfully combating oppression?
We're also seeking:
- Photo Essays
- Q&As / profiles about radical southerners
- Serialized project ideas examining deep-rooted problems here like voter suppression
- Multimedia projects
- Hot takes & humorous critiques (no pitch necessary)
Currently, we're looking for essays themed "The politics of X in the South."
We're interested in the politics of getting shit done here. We're also interested in how you might fill in the blank for X: The politics of historical preservation of oppressed people and their culture and art or the politics of progressive church potlucks. Pitch us.
We pay every contributor. We pay upon publication. We prioritize pitches from BIPOC.
Please send queries to Katherine at email@example.com
Thanks for trusting us with your ideas and work.
We also encourage interested writers to join our contributor list, where we periodically send around topics we're hoping to see covered.
Feel free to view our contributor guide for more on the kinds of stories we generally look for and how to pitch us.