The Big Issue

Pitching Your Story Idea

We accept unsolicited material, if it is polished and fits the tone and style of the magazine, is clearly targeted at a particular section of the magazine and falls within the word counts relevant to a particular section. (For example 750 words for 'My Word' submissions or 1800 for a four-page feature; see the attached 'Word Counts' information box.)
Alternatively, writers can pitch story ideas by email first. To be considered, your pitch should explain which section of the magazine the story is intended for, be one paragraph long, contain a topic sentence, a sample introductory sentence and explain the story angle, writing tone, suggested word length, a list of possible interviewees (if appropriate) and whether or not photographs and/or illustrative material is available.
If your story is linked to a particular event (or date, or anniversary) you must pitch it at least two months before the event takes place. Important note: as a national publication, we are unlikely to accept stories that have a specifically local focus. If we like your idea, we will call or email you to discuss it further. Pitches should be emailed to submissions@bigissue.org.au

What We Look For

We strongly recommend (in fact, expect) that you read The Big Issue, and have a good idea of the sorts of stories we like and the style of writing we prefer. Keep in mind that we are an independent publication and are thus able to do stories other magazines and papers might not be able to do.
As well as our core content (current affairs and weightier social issues), we're also interested in stories focused on street culture and quirky, humorous or unusual topics. What we are looking for is good writing that helps us put a human face on all the issues we cover. Whether you want to contribute satire, hard news, investigative journalism or light-hearted pieces, the most important thing is clear writing and a compelling human perspective. Serious topics need to be tackled in such a way as to keep the reader interested – we encourage first-person, experience based pieces; dry, fact-laden reportage, an over-reliance on comments by 'experts' and an overly earnest writing approach are to be avoided.
Please note: We do not publish poetry unless you fit the brief for 'Streetsheet' contributions (see below).
We'd encourage you not to be disheartened if your first ideas are not picked up; we don't commission a story unless we are confident that it would suit the magazine. When pitching stories for the first time, sending copies of your previously published work is a good idea. Be aware, too, that because we have a small editorial team it may be some time before we can respond to your submission. Please let us know if the piece has been submitted elsewhere.
We accept material for publication in The Big Issue on the basis that it has not already been published (whether online, in a hardcopy publication or in any other medium) and that it will be first published by The Big Issue. By submitting material, either unsolicited or commissioned by us, you represent that the material has not been previously published in any form anywhere in the world.
If we select your material for publication you are free to have it published elsewhere after it has first been published by us, provided that any subsequent publication of the material credits The Big Issue using the words "first published by The Big Issue Australia", or words to that effect, with reasonable prominence.
Also, we won't accept stories that have been submitted as part of assessment for any kind of journalism course, unless everyone interviewed for the piece is expressly forewarned that what they have told you may be published.

Story Length And Pay Rates

Feature stories generally run between 850–1800 words (and most commonly are two-page spreads of approx 850 words), columns are around 600 words, and one-page pieces are usually 700–850 words. Regular sections have specific word counts (see below).
Because we are a not-for-profit organisation, we are unable to offer commercial pay rates. Our usual rate of pay for features and news stories is 20 cents a word. We don't guarantee payment until the piece is published, and payment is made according to the price agreed upon at the time it is commissioned.
Payment for film, book, small screen and music reviews is a flat rate of $40. The review sections are coordinated by section editors. Do not submit reviews except at their request.

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