Civil Eats is Looking for New Contributors

Can you read about the Farm Bill without glazing over? Do you like explaining food policy to a national audience?

We are looking for a few good policy reporters!

Civil Eats is on the hunt for one or more experienced freelance contributors with a track record of journalism coverage of legislative and other political efforts to change the food system at the state and national level. Washington, D.C.-based writers encouraged to apply, but interest and aptitude (and/or a willingness to get on early-morning press calls if you’re on the West Coast) are what matter most. Interested journalists should send inquiries and published food-policy clips to managing editor Matthew Wheeland at

Q: I’m interested in writing for Civil Eats. How do I get started?

1) Start by spending some time reading the articles on our site. You might want to consider subscribing to our weekly newsletter to make it easy to stay on top of what we publish.

2) Send us a one-to-two paragraph pitch describing your story idea, where you intend to get your information, and why it might be a good fit for Civil Eats.

3) Include a few lines about why you are the best person to write the story. Include links to other posts and stories you’ve written when applicable.

4) Send everything to managing editor Matthew Wheeland, matt(at)

Q: What kinds of stories do you publish?

A: See our list below:

News stories

These tend to be shorter pieces (600-800), reporting on new food or farm policy developments, noteworthy scientific studies, and other timely developments within the world of food. Our goal is to report news in the context of larger questions about how to make our food system more just, sustainable, humane, etc. The most important thing to know is we require a lot of linking out and citing in all of our stories.


These are more in-depth pieces larger issues or questions related to food production, sustainability, food safety, animal welfare, or any of the other topics we regularly cover. These run from 800-1,200 words, and require multiple sources and some in-depth research. Ideally, our features take on some core challenge, tension, or conflict about food production, distribution, etc. The best feature stories have a clear and engaging lead, a clear nut graph, and include more than one perspective.

Profiles of innovators

These are shorter pieces (great for first-time contributors) about a group or individual working to address a problem with our food system. While we’re not opposed to covering people and projects who have received prior media coverage, we tend to privilege stories we haven’t heard before when possible. We’re always looking for signs of success and stories from far afield. While we have significant audiences on the coasts, for instance, we also want to hear about the work being done in remote rural areas, smaller cities, and everywhere in between. These can range from 600-900 words, depending on the story being told.

First-person commentary

Have something provocative or counter-intuitive to say about food production or the food movement? We want to hear it. And if it the idea is strong enough, we’ll be glad to help you strengthen your argument. Note: While we’re happy to look at pre-written op-eds, we will often have edits and require our commentators to work within our editorial standards. We rarely publish anything wholesale.


We run occasional Q & As in our Faces and Visions of the Food Movement section. Big names are always great, but we also want to know about the people who are so busy on the front lines that they don’t have time for self-promotion. Let us know who should be our heroes and we’ll gladly share their stories.

Books and film reviews

This is another great place to start if you have never contributed to Civil Eats. But it also requires you to be extra on top of things. We prefer to publish reviews within a week of the release, when possible, and we also expect you to keep your eyes on who else might be reviewing/responding to the work.


It’s true, we like a good list as much as the next person (and audiences seems to really like them), but we only want to create lists when there’s some deep content behind it, and not for the sake of creating click bait. Here are a few good examples of what has worked for us.

Videos, infographics, and photo essays

We always love the chance to make Civil Eats a more visual place and we’d love to work with more contributors on these types of pieces. Photos, charts, maps, you name it, we’d love to see it!

Crossposts from other blogs/sites

Have you written something you want to reach a wider audience. We’d always be glad to take a look.

Q: Do you pay for original stories?

A: Yes. The amount depends on the type of piece assigned and the level of work involved. Contact us for more info.

Q: Anything you don’t publish?

A: Product reviews, general culinary food trends, or straight up advocacy. We only occasionally publish international stories, and when we do they tend to have a pretty clear tie to the U.S.

Q: Do I need to disclose conflicts of interest?

A: Yes, please. Let us know if you have in any way worked for the company or entity you have written about. In some scenarios this might be a deal breaker, but in many cases we’d simply prefer to disclose the affiliation.

Q: How do I work with the editors?

A: Our editorial process is very hands-on and we may get involved on the story, structure, or sentence-level, depending on what’s needed. But that doesn’t mean we take credit, it just means we have high editorial standards that have earned us awards and we hope to help make your work shine!