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The Bristol Cable

What we’re looking for…

Before pitching your story, have a read through the kinds of stories 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/how frequently you’d be interested in writing for us. 

Your pitch should be a few paragraphs long max and give an overview of the story and 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 the style we’re looking for. 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 about where appropriate, include a call to action – if you write about a problem, point the reader to a way they can help. Here are our interviews and here are our features. Interviews and simple features are around 900 words and more developed features are up to 1,200 words. 

Voices and Opinion pieces

We are looking for opinion pieces from both experts and journalists with key knowledge on important issues and voices pieces from people sharing their personal experience or an opinion on a topic or current issue. 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

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 media coordinator during and after submitting your draft. Developed features can be up to 1,200 words. Consider pitching companion pieces to go out with your investigation if it’s of strong public interest – an opinion or voices piece, interview or feature by or about people affected by what you’re investigating. Check out what we’ve previously investigated here

Videos and photoessays

We are keen to tell stories through the lens of a camera as well. Photoessays are light on text (up to 500 words) and generally have around 6-15 photos in them. As well as publishing them semi-regularly online, we run a photoessay 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 an in-house video journalist who can help develop and then film and produce 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. 

Human interest

The 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 contacts to talk about how they are personally affected.

Community relevance

We want our content to speak to communities in Bristol, so ask yourself, why does your story matter and who does it matter to?

Themed content

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.

Be accessible

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.

Be challenging

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 is 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 the print editions’ solutions articles or news in brief section, where we run shorter articles about interesting, positive initiatives. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the story needs 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.

Make your pitch

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