Freelance & Internship Guide | Pittsburgh City Paper

Freelance & Internship Guide

It's sad, but true: Not everyone can work full-time writing for the Pittsburgh City Paper. But fortunately, City Paper offers ample opportunities for freelancers and aspiring interns alike. Both options offer you all the benefits of seeing your name in print, but without any of the burdensome encumbrances full-timers must contend with, like staff meetings and healthcare coverage. Really, what could be better?

Interested in taking advantage of these opportunities? Here's our brief guide to tell you how.

Freelance Submission Guide

It happens every week.

Someone decides they want to freelance for Pittsburgh City Paper. Sometimes it's the need to make a few quick bucks, no questions asked. Sometimes it's a burning desire to proclaim the truth in a world full of lies. But whatever the reason, someone picks up the phone and says, "I want to write for you."

"Okay," we say. "What do you want to write?"

"Ummm," the aspiring freelancer says. "You know — articles."

We use freelance talent every week, and we value the contributions made by our freelancers. But we don't just take freelancers from off the street; that's how we hire editors. When a prospective freelancer wants to write for us, we have two questions:

Is this person able to bring us stories we can't get on our own?
and Is this person capable of actually writing the story?

To answer the first question, you need to bring us some story pitches. These should be stories you think we'll want — and stories we don't already have.

How can you tell what sort of material qualifies? The easiest way is to look at the paper. See what we already publish ... and what we don't. Tailor your ideas accordingly. Here are a few hints to get you started.

What we are interested in: Stories about local artists. Stories about local news and politics. Stories about Pittsburgh, in all its love and squalor.

What we're not interested in: Political screeds about how great President Obama is. Political screeds about how awful President Obama is. First-person essays. Your problems.

As to that second question — can this person write the story themselves? — we're looking for skilled writers and thorough reporters who know the territory. The best proof of these qualities is clips of previously published work. Articles for your college newspaper, freelance stuff you did for community papers, Pulitzer Prize-winning multi-part series from The New York Times ... we'll look at almost anything.

Send us a link to online material, if need be, or photocopy published material and send it in. (Don't send originals — your mom wants to save those!)

Our mailing address is:

4 Smithfield St. Suite 1200 Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Who do you send your story pitch and clips to? That depends on whether the story you're submitting is a straight news piece or an arts-related feature. Each section has an editor, as outlined below:

Editor-in-chief: Lisa Cunningham

Use the e-mail links above, or call 412.316.3342 and ask to speak to the appropriate person.

What do you get for contributing to City Paper? The admiration of many, the envy of a few. The satisfaction of having pushed back the veil of illusion that obscures our vision of the Real. And a few bucks to pay the bar tab, which you'll no doubt rack up while pulling that veil back into place.

And while City Paper retains first-publication and Web rights to published material, you retain all future rights to have it republished elsewhere. Your editor will explain details, and freelance rates, more fully.

Intern Opportunities

A&E/News Internship Information:

Unlike a lot of companies, we don't use interns to fetch us coffee, or do lots of scutwork we can't be bothered with. We provide interns with real-world experience and the chance to report and write stories of their own. We also provide plenty of feedback from editors. Occasionally, we even provide them with money: Financial terms of internships vary, but interns may be paid for published material at the freelance rate.

Because of the active role editors take in the internship, opportunities are limited. Our Arts and Entertainment section hosts one intern at a time, in sessions beginning in January, May, and September. The news section retains interns on a rolling basis, but rarely more than one intern at a time.

Successful news internships involve writing at least one shorter piece a week, in addition to longer pieces published periodically. Arts internships involve writing numerous short items covering the range of the local arts scene each week, with longer pieces published periodically. Interns are generally expected to work at least 10 hours a week, some of which will be spent in our offices.

What are we seeking in a potential intern? Mostly, we're looking for signs of interest and aptitude. We're not interested in candidates who simply want to pad out their resume so they can get jobs in PR (unless they really dojust want to fetch us coffee all day). We want people who can write and report, and are passionate about doing both. We also want people who won't call us late at night asking for us to put up bail money. (Yes, it's happened. But never again.)

That means that you should have some published clips to show us from a student newspaper or elsewhere, and ideally a recommendation from an instructor or peer. (Most interns are current students, but it is not a requirement.)

If you're interested in an editorial internship, contact the appropriate section editor, either by calling the City Paper office at 412.316.3342, or by using the e-mails below:

For news internships and A&E internships, contact Lisa Cunningham.


Marketing & Promotions Internship Information:

City Paper's Marketing & Promotions Department is currently taking applications for interns. An ideal candidate is outgoing, friendly, familiar with the local arts & entertainment scene, and is knowledgeable of PR, Communications, Photography, Journalism, Marketing and/or Graphic Design. People skills are a must and evening and weekend hours are required although prospective students’ schedules will be accommodated as best as possible.

This is an unpaid internship and we prefer students who will be receiving credit. Qualified students should email their resume and cover letter to our Associate Publisher with the subject header “City Paper Internship."


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