Health Journalism 2022: PitchFest editors
Marci Landsmann, senior editor, Cancer Today
Cancer Today is a magazine and website for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. We are published by the nonprofit organization, the American Association for Cancer Research. Our tag line is Practical Knowledge. Real Hope. We have a need for stories on treatment advances in particular cancer types. We also publish survivor profiles of people who are doing advocacy work and whose story can provide lessons for readers. Shorter pieces tend to be research-based pieces that break down specific studies. For these pitches, we are interested in the service-angle and want to know how coverage of the topic will provide a service to anyone going through cancer.
We are looking for targeted pitches that show a writer is able to digest research into actionable information for cancer patients and survivors. Pitches should include a potential list of sources and the angle of the story and, most importantly, why it’s important to cover for cancer patients. Pitches should convey through the writing a sophisticated understanding of cancer that scrutinizes and asks questions that a patient might be interested in learning. Magazine rate is generally $1 a word for features. Website stories pay roughly $250-300 an assignment for a 750-800 word piece.
Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, editor, Everyday Health
Everyday Health is a lay digital health pub aimed at adult audiences. We cover not only conditions but living well with these conditions. Blogs, profiles, features. Thoughtful nuanced pitch addressed to cancer topics with emphasis on leukemia, breast and gyn cancers, lung, melanoma, oral head and neck, ovarian and prostate. Varies depending on level of complexity, # of interviews, length, but ranges generally $400-$800
Joyce Friedan, Washington editor, MedPage Today
MedPage Today is an advertising-supported medical news website that covers all the clinical news, findings, and announcements that we think will directly affect the lives and practices of health care professionals throughout the U.S. MedPage Today attracts nearly 4 million visitors a month and reaches over two-thirds (~760,000) of all U.S. physicians. In addition, tens of thousands of specialists regularly read our practice-focused newsletters. Every day we send a headlines e-newsletter to 475,000+ registered users. Over 240,000 subscribers follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
We're interested in stories that resonate strongly with our physician readers -- everything from quick-hit scoops to deeply reported features and enterprise stories that get doctors and other healthcare workers talking. Popular topics include the high costs of healthcare, the corporatization of medicine, untenable working conditions, patient safety, overtreatment/overuse, and medicolegal. We are looking for stories of 600-1,000 words that will affect the daily work of our readers -- physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and other healthcare professionals. This includes developments in clinical medicine and in health policy. Pay rates vary depending on the writer's experience and length of the article.
David Olmos, executive director, editorial, Medscape/WebMD
Our publications, WebMD and Medscape, service primarily a general consumer audience and physician audience. Stories about health, medicine and some science. Breaking news, news features, profiles, Q&As. Most of our freelance stories are assigned by editors but pitches are welcome. Understanding of our publications and audiences; smart, well-conceived, unique, forward-looking pitches on health, medical and science topics that target consumers or physicians and, occasionally, both audiences. Starts at $250 for news briefs, $500 for news stories, higher for more complex stories.
Bijal Trivedi, senior science editor, National Geographic
Over the last 132 years, National Geographic has earned a reputation for educating the public on crucial stories about science. We do that every day on digital platforms — whether on our website, on the biggest Instagram account of any brand (132 million followers and counting), or on other platforms that give us the largest social footprint of any media company — as well as in our monthly magazine that reaches more than 50 million readers globally in 36 languages. Specifically looking for untold stories of the COVID-19 pandemic—the ideal story weaves together culture and science. I’m also looking for biomedical/life science stories. Two-grafs that sell the story. Must include why the story/your angle is right now NatGeo, and why now? $1/word for standard digital stories. Higher rates for magazine stories.
Candice Clark, editor-in-chief, Rural Health Quarterly
Rural Health Quarterly (RHQ) is a national rural health news magazine published by the F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. RHQ explores all issues related to rural health care, with a readership including rural health care providers, researchers, educators and policy makers. RHQ accepts freelance pitches for stories of any length that cover timely and relevant rural health topics, with the stories helping readers understand the complex and often unique health care challenges faced by rural America. Stories about innovative programs and rural health success stories are also welcome. I am looking for solutions-based rural health care pitches, events and people that are building their communities and helping in times of need.
Nicholette Zeliadt, managing editor, Spectrum
Spectrum (https://spectrumnews.org/) is the leading source of news, analysis and expert opinion on autism research. Scientists are our primary audience, but our articles need to be written in language that is accessible to everyone. We are looking for scoops, trends, explainers and features to interest our core audience of autism researchers. Your pitch should highlight progress or hype in some area of autism science. Or maybe you have the inside track on a controversial or retracted study. We also cover policy developments and societal trends that affect the broader autism research community, including not just principal investigators but also clinicians and early-career scientists. You can find examples of these types of stories here, here, here, here, here and here. We usually have the bases covered when it comes to stories about studies published in major journals and described in mainstream press releases. But you are welcome to pitch such stories if you have exclusive access or a unique angle. Your pitch should tell us what’s new and exciting about your idea, whom you plan to interview and why this story is important to our audience. Please search Spectrum for coverage of the topics your idea relates to and explain how your story would advance that coverage. You should also tell us a little bit about yourself and why you’re well positioned to write this story for Spectrum. Please include links to your published clips. Our pay starts at $1/word.
Betsy Agnvall, editor, Staying Sharp, AARP
Staying Sharp, stayingsharp.aarp.org is “a program that offers science-based resources to empower you to take control of your brain health.” It’s a relatively new platform for AARP that is free to AARP members and charges a small fee for a brain health assessment. Articles and activities are aimed at readers 50 and older who are interested in keeping their brain sharp as they age. This is a platform for people who do not have memory problems or Alzheimer’s disease, but who want to harness the latest solid scientific research to keep their memory sharp and thinking focused. The articles and activities are divided into six pillars of brain health with the acronym BE MORE: Be Social, Engage Your Brain, Manage Stress, Ongoing Exercise, Restorative Sleep and Eat Right. The articles and activities connect current research to one of the pillars. Right now I need to assign dozens of short, bulleted how-to 250-word activities that give readers very specific direction for how they can live their lives in brain-healthy ways. These activities need to be able to answer the reader’s question of: what can I do today to help improve my brain health today? Each one will be related to the six pillars of brain health. I also need a writer/editor to shorten 650 word articles to 250 word blogs that will be outside the platform. Take a look at the blogs here: https://blog.aarp.org/staying-sharp. Science-based, consumer-friendly ideas that help readers understand and act upon the six pillars of brain health. The six pillars: The Be Social pillar is about having strong connections with friends, family and your community.
The Eat Right pillar is about getting the right nutrients to feed your brain.
The Manage Stress pillar is about keeping stress under control.
The Ongoing Exercise pillar is about staying physically active.
The Restorative Sleep pillar is about getting quality sleep.
The Engage Your Brain pillar is about challenging your mind
Kyung Song, senior health editor, WebMD
WebMD is an online publisher with an international readership, including in Canada, UK, and India. We use a distinct voice and style, one that is empathetic without commiserating. Medical literacy is important for us; we aim to write at the 8th-grade level. My team produces mainly lifestyle features on a wide variety of consumer health topics. COVID, mental wellness, managing chronic conditions, caregiving, fitness and diet, parenting, etc. We also have a separte news desk that covers breaking news. The bulk of the assignments from my team are generated in-house (features, slideshows, medical reference articles, long-form narratives). WebMD also has a separate news team that does accept pitches on consumer health topics. Our sister subsidiary, Medscape, uses freelance writers to cover issues from health professionals' view (doctors, nurses, medical students, administrators, etc.) $750 for features (500-800 words and sometimes longer); $2,000-$2,500 for long-form narratives (@3,000 words); $375 for quick-turn news stories with 1-2 sources and $900 for longer breaking news.
Katti Gray, Youth Today and Juvenile Justice Information Exchange
We pay up to $1 per word (though we mostly pay $800 for 800- to 1,200-word densely reported articles) on a wide-range of topics centering children, youth and young adults through their late 20s in age. We pay $500 for Q&As.
Our solutions-focused and other news coverage topics include juvenile justice; disability rights/justice; COVID-19; foster care; adoption; migration; climate change and environment; LGBTQ+/gender; employment and the economy; technology; after school, summer school and other out-of-school time programs; social, economic and other safety net programs; health, including mental and behavioral; substance use disorders; gun violence; homelessness; youth development; resilience; and trauma.
We also contract journalists for investigative and enterprise reporting on the agencies and authorities working with vulnerable youth, including child protective services, family and juvenile courts, youth detention facilities, probation/parole and others. And, in 2022, we are launching a long-range project on youth and climate change/the environment.
Tod Jones, editor, Costco Connection
Please display knowledge of and familiarity with the magazine. Please don't pitch ideas that we've run within the last 2-3 years. Please make pitches that have a connection to Costco (health products and or services), e.g., vision health (Costco has optical centers); gut issues (Costco sells probiotics), etc.. Our articles are general information, with solid substantiation. We don't cover cutting-edge topics or health remedies that have not been amply verified. Ask for guidelines and special sections calendar before pitching ideas. ($1.25/word)
Diana Hembree, editor and co-founder, MindSite News
Carmel Wroth, NPR
Laura Downey, executive editor, magazine/senior managing editor, WebMD
WebMD seeks stories that make sense of health news and emerging trends to help readers understand what it means for them. The website and magazine go beyond first-day headlines and dive deeper into lifestyle topics to provide value for readers. Our stories synthesize and convey information in an engaging and informative way that speaks to readers in language they understand, from first-person pieces that allow everyday people to share what it’s like living with said condition, to celebrity profiles and the coverage of timely topics including social justice and COVID-19 to health care and homelessness.
Pitches should explain why a story is significant. Make sure it has a clear focus and include data and research to back it up. What is new and different about your idea that makes it interesting? Also, think visually—are there any images or video we can use, or graphics we can create to go with your story? All content is reviewed by WebMD’s medical doctors for accuracy in addition to line editing from our editorial team. Use credible experts that align with those we provide in our guidelines for acceptable sources (almost every story has a source box). Pay varies.
Rachel Nania, senior writer/editor/producer, AARP
AARP.org is looking for innovative and engaging content that can help Americans 50 and older make informed decisions on how to live the healthiest life possible. We cover everything from general health and wellness, to medical breakthroughs, to health care policy and delivery.
Our online articles vary in length, but always offer the reader the “news they can use” to take steps to improve their health. As a health and medicine editor, I am looking for stories in the following beats: diseases/conditions, medical breakthroughs, brain health (including Alzheimer’s and dementia) and hearing and eye health. AARP.org pays $1/ word.
Andy Miller, southern bureau chief, Kaiser Health News
Susan Straight, managing editor, Monitor on Psychology
Jason Bardi, editorial director, NEO.LIFE
Melissa Matthews, SELF
Jennifer Abbasi, The JAMA Network
The Medical News section of JAMA is looking for timely and compelling stories about new developments in medical science, clinical practice, public health, and health policy. We publish news briefs, Q&As, short news stories, mid-length features, and longer-form thoroughly researched articles.
Our early COVID-19 coverage included seminal stories on mRNA vaccines; antibody testing; convalescent plasma; and the Long Haulers. We’ve continued to cover the pandemic from an array of difference angles, like the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on the brain and the cardiovascular system; vaccine hesitancy caused by infertility misinformation; the discovery of potent SARS-CoV-2 antibodies; and hospital oxygen supply shortages.
In addition to our COVID-19 stories, recent feature articles have focused on physician burnout and intention to leave medicine; patient care in Ukraine during the Russian invasion; a controversial Alzheimer disease drug approval; advancements toward the first RSV vaccines; medical abortion access; adolescent gender-affirming care; and the first-ever malaria vaccine. Rates: $2100-$2900 for feature-length articles.
Michael Fitzgerald, editor-in-chief, Harvard Public Health
Harvard Public Health explores health and wellbeing through journalism examining the social, cultural, economic, political, and individual factors affecting how and whether populations flourish. Our stories can be narratives, investigations, commentary, visual features, and essays. The entire publication is open to freelancers. We prefer to receive queries rather than full stories. The query length will vary based on the type of story, but in general should not exceed 500 words. For shorter pieces such as Field Work or Insights, successful pitches might be just a paragraph.
We are published by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health but are editorially independent of the school. We seek compelling stories in public health from wherever they are.
The best story ideas will connect questions in population health with the people most affected by the answers. We prefer to have research at the core of our pieces. We are not news-driven but our stories must be topical, timely, and have the potential to change the field.
Asked & Answered – Q&As with people doing interesting work in public health.
Data View – Stories driven by a data set or multiple datasets that reveal something new about a subject.
Field work – A focused look at novel research or policy innovation about a topic in public health.
Insights – Original commentary that brings new perspective to issues in public health. These often will include a call-to-action.
Features: We look for narratives that will inform, inspire, illuminate, or remonstrate some part of the public health professional world. We prefer stories driven by people to stories about abstract ideas but are open to diverse structures and approaches.
Essays: We run two main types of textual essays: research-driven essays and personal essays.
The research-driven essay looks at a problem in public health primarily from the perspective of scholars working on understanding and addressing it, but it can include the writer’s qualitative observations.
Personal essays are meant to be by a member of the public speaking to the field at large – asking a question about why something is the way it is, or pointing out that the status quo isn’t working, or reminding us what the lived experience looks like. This is part of creating a dialogue between public health professionals and the people whose lives they aim to improve.
Our process: Stories are read and reviewed by multiple editors – they receive a top edit, a line edit, and a copy edit. Stories are also fact-checked. Writers will be asked to annotate longer pieces and provide source lists and interview notes.
Harvard Public Health pays $2 a word for features.
Jim Morris, editor-in-chief, Public Health Watch
Dianne Hartley, chief editor, US Healthcare Journals
US Healthcare Journals is the media for the healthcare industry in Louisiana and Arkansas, two of the poorest states with some of the lowest healthcare rankings in the country. The Journals’ mission is to analyze healthcare for the purpose of optimizing the health of our citizens. We believe that all healthcare is ultimately local and we strive to provide healthcare leaders in those markets with news, interviews and in-depth features worthy of this important industry.
While our primary audience is medical professionals, we have a significant public presence so articles must be written in language that is accessible to all.
The Journals are available in full color, glossy print and also online:
We are looking for writers who understand the healthcare industry and can delve deeper to address relevant issues affecting these markets. We are primarily seeking original feature articles. Potential story topics might address the Medicare Wage Index, why different zip codes get different Medicare/Medicaid offerings, and why there is limited access to affordable, healthy and organic food for certain communities. We are interested in stories that investigate the “how and why” of the issues that ultimately lead to chronic disease as well as new solutions to address those causes, the need and lack of mental health services in some communities, and the potential impact of industrial pollution on neighborhood cancer rates. We would like to explore health disparities and solutions for those disparities, as well as market-specific drug problems. There is also an eye for expansion into the Texas market. If you have industry-related story ideas specific to Houston or Dallas, I am interested in hearing those as well.
Contributors are paid on a per article basis.