Before pitching your story, read the following to get an idea of what we’re looking for.
If you’ve not written for us before you’ll be asked to provide links to previously published work, and if you’re keen to write more often for us, we’ll ask you to let us know your availability and how frequently you’d be interested in writing for us.
Your pitch should be no more than a few paragraphs long, give an overview of the story, explain why it’s important that it’s written and why you’re the one to write it.
The kinds of stories we publish
News reports and analysis pieces
We generally do in-depth, value-added stories rather than chasing breaking news, but sometimes we need a story turned around quickly. Whether short or long, our news reports need to have quotes from multiple sources and wider context that you might not find elsewhere. Like all our stories, they need to be accessible and not assume previous knowledge of a subject.
Check out our reports here to get an idea of our style. Simple news reports are up to 500 words, and more in-depth news pieces and analysis pieces are 700-900 words.
Features and interviews
These are colourful pieces that get the reader to the heart of the issue and have the interviewees’ personal stories, thoughts and feelings front-and-centre. We’ll want you to give the reader the context around the story, share why it’s important for them to know, and include a call to action – if you write about a problem, point the reader to a way they can help.
Voices and Opinion pieces
We are looking for voices pieces from people sharing their personal experience or an opinion on a topic or current issue, and opinion pieces from both experts and journalists with key knowledge on important issues. You don’t need to be an expert on the topic to write a voices piece – we’re looking for people to give the reader a different perspective on an issue.
Investigations are the Cable’s bread and butter. Investigations draw on multiple research methods that may include Freedom of Information requests, documents, data and human sources. They need to be carefully researched and fact-checked and you need to be willing to work closely with a Cable journalist during and after submitting your draft. Developed features can be up to 1,200 words.
Consider pitching companion pieces – an opinion or voices piece, interview or feature by or about people affected by what you’re investigating – to be published alongside your investigation if it’s of strong public interest. Check out what we’ve previously investigated here.
Videos and photoessays
We are keen to tell stories through the camera lens too. Photoessays are light on text (up to 500 words) and generally have around 6-15 photos in them. As well as semi-regular online photoessays, we run one in every print edition.
If you have an idea for a story that would work better as a video rather than a written article, we’d love to hear it. We have in-house producers who can help develop your story with you.
The kind of writing we’re after
Regardless of whether you’re pitching a feature, a shorter article or multimedia, there are things we look for when commissioning content.
Stories behind the headlines
The Cable aims to focus on ‘value-added’ reporting that gives the reader more than they’d find in the daily news cycle.
Personal experience is often the most important part of a piece. So whether you’re covering the impact of a service closure, a new council policy, or a new positive social project, make sure you find sources to talk about how they are personally affected.
We want our content to speak to communities in Bristol, so ask yourself: why does your story matter and who does it matter to?
If you’re planning a great feature, ask yourself whether you could follow it up with an interview, an opinion, voice piece or follow-up on the same topic.
It’s all about Bristol!
We publish content with strong Bristol links – and don’t normally publish stories which do not have a local focus (although many stories may have wider – as well as local – relevance). If you’re questioning whether your idea is too tenuously linked to Bristol, it probably is.
We aim for the Cable to be interesting and relevant to a wide-ranging Bristol audience. Please bear in mind if covering a very technical or academic topic that you will need to demonstrate that you can make it accessible and relevant to a broad range of readers. Likewise, unpack any jargon or specialist language that you use.
It’s good to be a bit provocative! We’re interested in opinions that may challenge readers, so avoid preaching to the converted. Engage critically with your subjects.
When is good news ‘news’?
There are loads of great initiatives happening across Bristol, from charities to social and community projects, and unfortunately we can’t cover them all. If you plan on covering a positive initiative in Bristol, please consider whether the project is doing something truly innovative or new that may have a wide impact on people in Bristol.
Also consider whether it’s a candidate for our solutions articles or news in brief sections in the print edition, where we run shorter articles about interesting, positive initiatives. These will need a stronger local hook than people from Bristol who are involved in a national or international project.
In general we are more interested in the human stories of the people who may benefit from, say, a certain social project, than the people running it.