Pitch Guidelines

We’re interested in the challenges and complexities of city life in the 21st century, in communities both big and small. We want stories from where you are that are interesting, relevant, and meaningful to people everywhere. We invite you to share your expertise and to help fill our blind spots.

What makes a good CityLab story?

CityLab stories span a number of topics, from transit to climate change. Check out our different channels: Design, Transportation, Equity, Environment, and Life.   

Whether we’re covering housing policy or an innovative art installation, our reporting reveals something about the problems, solutions, and surprises of the urban landscape. The stories you pitch should have at least one of the following characteristics, ideally more:

  • They’re rooted in time and place. We’re not the outlet to pitch for a bird’s-eye-view analysis of federal policies. A regional story with broader implications pegged to news events? We’re in. An original cartographic analysis that reveals something about our geographic similarities and differences? Hell yes.
  • They have national or international resonance. We cover cities and localities, but not for a local audience. The story should illuminate a problem, solution, or new piece of information that would appeal to people outside of where the story takes place.
  • They’re accessible to professional planners and curious laypeople alike. Some of our readers work on zoning, architecture, or mobility for a living—but all of them turn to us to understand how these factors shape daily life.
  • They take stock of trial, error, blueprints, and best practices. We love a good solutions story.
  • They make news. Do you have a scoop about something happening in one or several localities? Are you performing a novel analysis or investigation? Can you interview a coveted person about the right topic at the right time? Tell us about it.
  • They channel the universal joys and struggles of city life. Be our guide to urban living (or, for that matter, small-town or suburban living). Tell us how to survive the most demoralizing commute, or where to find silence in any city. Give us the funniest take on the new urban start-up.
  • They’re experimental, format-busting, or visually-led. Can you illuminate the issue of loitering through a phenomenal illustrated piece? We want it. Have you mapped all the phone booths in North America and spotted a pattern? Drop us a line.
  • You have a point of view. In addition to our reported pieces, we’re looking for strong, informed perspectives rooted in evidence for our Perspective section. Take on an issue, make an argument, tell us why you’re the person to do it. We're looking in particular for diverse and underrepresented voices and viewpoints.

What should my pitch look like?  

  • Tell us what the story is. What’s the tension? Where is this playing out? Who are the main characters?
  • Tell us why we should care. What are the stakes or ramifications? Does this help us understand a bigger-picture issue in a new or clearer way?
  • Tell us how you’d tell it. What reporting do you already have? Which sources might you speak to? Is this an on-the-ground story, one you’d report from afar, or something you’d recount from personal experience? Can you get photos, visuals, or other multimedia elements to add another dimension to the story?
  • Tell us who you are. Send us a quick bio, including what makes you the right person to tell this story and a few links to clips that give us a sense of your work.
  • Tell us which channel this is for. Design, Transportation, Equity, Environment, Life, or Perspective. If you’re unsure, or if it spans multiple channels, don’t worry: Give it your best guess and we’ll get it to the right place.

If you’re pitching this to a number of outlets simultaneously, let us know. And if you’ve got a scoop or exclusive, we want to know that, too!

What we rarely accept:

  • Promotional pieces that tout the success of one particular commercial product.
  • Analyses in which the writer has a personal stake in the outcome.
  • Too-general explainers on big, complex topics (solar power, subways, the self-driving car).
  • Single-source profiles of local political figures, celebrities, do-gooders, or business leaders that fail to engage with any broader ideas.
  • Unsolicited bylined articles submitted by public relations professionals on behalf of a client.

Where do I send my pitch?

Drop us a line at pitches@citylab.com.