How to pitch MIT Technology Review
MIT Technology Review welcomes pitches from freelance writers across a broad range of topics. We encourage writers of all skill levels, and from all backgrounds, to pitch us. We are especially interested in hearing from writers with backgrounds that are traditionally under-represented in technology and science journalism, and from outside the United States.
This guide will give you a brief overview of the kinds of stories we run, what we’re looking for in a pitch, and who to contact when you have an idea.
Most of the stories that MIT Technology Review commissions come from pitches, but we do reach out to writers with assignments. We also issue a bi-monthly call for pitches for the print magazine. If you’d like to be considered for assignments and be informed of calls for pitches, you can fill out this form to be added to our database of freelance journalists.
What is an MIT Technology Review story?
MIT Technology Review publishes a wide range of stories, from breaking news to long-term investigations. We want stories about technology itself, but we’re particularly excited about those areas where technology and humans collide—where technology meets the real world. Our stories should feel like must-reads for people who want to stay up to date with how technology is changing our world.
In general, we commission news stories (generally 800-1,000 words), analysis pieces (800-1,000 words), and features (2,500-4,000 words) from freelancers for the website. The print magazine offers other potential formats for stories in addition to news and features, including infographics and data spreads, essays, short profiles, and book reviews. If you are an expert interested in writing an op-ed for the magazine, you can find more information on the op-ed pitching and writing process here.
What makes a good MIT Technology Review pitch?
A pitch does not need to be long, but it should contain enough information to give the commissioning editor a good sense of what the end product would look like. A good pitch will tell us why our readers should care about your idea and why they should be reading about it now. It should also show how you (the writer) will make the story an enjoyable read.
In general, there has to be a sense of urgency and a clear top line. Pitching to write about a topic isn’t enough: What is the story you’re going to tell us? What kind of take-away should readers have? One way to do this is to think about what the headline might be. You can look at our site to get a sense of how we write our headlines (for example, we generally avoid formulating headlines as questions).
Please check to see if we have published similar stories recently. If it is an idea that hasn’t been covered by us but has been covered well by other outlets, explain how your story would stand apart.
And if you have not written for MIT Technology Review before, be sure to introduce yourself and include links to a few relevant clips if you have them.
News and analysis stories
If you’re pitching a news story about a scientific or technological development, be sure to make clear why this advance (if it is an advance) is important and not just incremental. It can’t be significant only to researchers in the field: it has to be important to people in general. They should be able to read the story and instantly get a sense as to why it’s a big deal.
In addition to straight news stories, we sometimes commission analysis pieces from freelance writers (examples here, here and here) that look at the news of the day through a new lens, adding context, insight, or new information to take the story forward.
We’d want a quick pitch (and a quick turnaround) for such analysis pieces. Summing up what is already out there isn’t enough; you need to tell us what the new thing is you’re bringing to the story. What do people not know? What are the consequences of the event that many of our readers will be unaware of—but would be fascinated to learn about?
Features and essays
Features can take a wide range of possible approaches, including fairly straightforward reports, profiles, narrative features, and deep investigations. Ultimately, readers should enjoy reading them. So your pitch should not only explain what the story is and why it is important but show how you’d tell it in a compelling way.
Feature pitches should have a specific story to tell—it is not enough to pitch an interesting topic. You must explain what kind of approach you’d take, what kind of ride you’ll take readers on. Who are the main characters? What obstacles or challenges will they meet on the way? How might your story resolve? What is the nut graf? We don’t expect you to have everything worked out in advance of reporting and writing the story, but the pitch should be able to give a sense of where the story will go.
Similarly, pitches for essays need a clear argument. Explain what you want to say about the topic in hand, why you're qualified to write about it, what take-aways you hope to give readers, and the evidence you will marshal to make your case.
Pitching for print
MIT Technology Review publishes a bi-monthly print magazine. We run short news stories and profiles (500-800 words), op-eds, and data spreads in the front of the book and essays and book reviews in the back of the book (usually around 2000 words).
The feature well of the magazine is devoted to narrative features, investigations, big profiles, and reported essays (generally between 2500-4000 words). Our features in each issue are centered around a theme.
Here are the upcoming themes for 2024:
- Jan/Feb: Breakthroughs [includes our annual round-up of high-impact innovations, pitches due late July/early August]
- March/April: Exploration/Hidden Worlds [pitches due mid Sept 2023]
- May/June: Build [pitches due mid-to-late November 2023]
- July/August: Play [pitches due mid-to-late Jan 2024]
- Sept/Oct: The Next 125 Years [TR's 125th anniversary issue, pitches due mid-to-late March 2024]
- Nov/Dec: Food [pitches due mid-to-late May 2024]
How much does MIT Technology Review pay?
Rates range from $1 to $2 per word, depending on the experience level of the writer, the story, and the publication route. Deeply reported features pay more than shorter news pieces.
Who do I pitch to?
If you have any questions or if you are ready to send a pitch, please reach out to commissioning editor Rachel Courtland (email@example.com). Please be sure to include “PITCH” in the subject line of your email. We prefer pitches to be within the body of an e-mail instead of as an attachment.