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Current is a B2B publication that serves the public media industry. While most readers are people who work at public radio and television stations, networks and production companies, media watchers and others interested in public media make up a small but important part of the audience. Articles help public news professionals get information and context on what’s happening in the industry, and gather ideas and insights to make their institutions stronger.
Current is both print and online. It publishes six issues a year on a roughly bimonthly basis. The website is another destination for articles; many are original and don’t make it into the newspaper. The publication also maintains a job board and an online business directory. Mike Janssen, Current’s digital editor, provides some information on what the publication is seeking and how to successfully pitch.
What types of articles are you looking for?
We have a more complete list in our online writers’ guidelines, but here are a few examples:
- Trends and developments in radio, TV and digital publishing/distribution technologies and how public media is responding or is being affected.
- Profiles of people working in public media who have achieved notable goals for stations or networks.
- Features about new radio shows, TV shows and podcasts in local and national public media, and coverage of how long-running programs are adapting to new platforms and audience expectations.
- Developments in public media programming, fundraising, station ownership and federal policy that influence or inform the work of public media professionals.
- Coverage of how public media stations, networks and producers are responding to the widespread push for racial justice by seeking greater diversity, equity and inclusion in their workplaces and among their audiences.
What is the typical length for articles?
We’re open to a range of lengths. It just depends on the topic. It’s pretty rare, however, that we publish pieces that exceed 1,500 to 2,000 words.
What is your typical rate? Do you provide a kill fee?
We pay 75 cents/word. We do provide kill fees, but as negotiated into contracts that we usually issue before working with a freelancer for the second time. A first-time freelancer who wants a kill fee would need to mention that up front.
Do you work with freelance designers, artists, multimedia storytellers or other professionals besides writers? How do you work with them?
Lately we have started using more freelancer artwork for theme packages in our print edition and online. We welcome seeing anyone’s portfolio for consideration. As for multimedia, we have produced podcasts (though none currently) and commissioned videos. Though we haven’t been doing much lately with audio and video, we’re open to pitches.
What level of expertise in your field do contributors need to have?
Some. Our readers expect more details and context in coverage of public media than what they can find at other publications. They also expect reporting that takes them behind the scenes to explore developments that affect their work. Writers need to have some knowledge of the issues and thinking in public media, and access to people who can give true insights.
How can writers craft a pitch that will really impress you?
It’s definitely a plus if a pitch reflects an understanding of what public broadcasting is. We get a fair number of pitches from freelancers who propose media stories completely unrelated to public media.
Read some of the articles on our site before you pitch so you’re familiar with what we cover. People who sign up can view two articles for free, or we can grant temporary access behind our paywall. After that, review the pitch guidelines on our website for more information about what we’re seeking.