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How to Pitch Stories to Eater Chicago

Freelancers looking to pitch to Eater’s Chicago-based city site should start here

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Eater Chicago reports on, tells stories about, and examines the world of restaurants and bars in Chicago and occasionally the surrounding area. If you’re looking to pitch a national story, click on over here to find out more about what sort of pitches Eater’s national site seeks. But if you’re a Chicago-based journalist seeking to pitch a local news story or feature, here’s a guide on how to do so.

Eater Chicago takes written pitches that fall into three main categories: news stories, maps, and reported features. Photography and illustrated pitches are also accepted. The COVID-19 outbreak has pushed us to change with the times. In recent months we’ve expanded coverage to grocery stores, plus beer and wine. Carryout and delivery have become emphasizes of coverage, whether it’s third-party service or how restaurants transition from dine-in to take out.

Detailed information on what we seek from each kind of story is below.

For all pieces, pitches should give a clear, concise summary of the subject, angle, or thesis, as well as your anticipated story structure. We’re looking for pitches that contain answers, not questions. (Or, if you don’t have answers yet, an explanation of why you don’t — and the reason shouldn’t be “I haven’t started the reporting.”) They must also have a strong element associated with a restaurant, bar, cafe, food truck, food hall, or another made-to-order fashion that resembles a restaurant, i.e. no grocery items or home cooking. Your pitch should also serve as an example of your writing style and tone.

All submissions should include a very short explanation of who you are and why you’re qualified to cover this story (or this beat), along with links to previously published pieces and/or your online portfolio.

Here are more details on the types of stories we’d love to commission:

  • Scoops, or breaking news stories about openings and closings reported in a timely manner, as well as lawsuits, labor development, major staff shuffles, and expansions. Staff writers usually take care of these so the writer must have special access on sourcing, have an exclusive, or know about an opening or closing that hasn’t been covered in other media. We’re particularly interested in cuisines and neighborhoods that haven’t gotten much coverage in Chicago. If you’ve come across a restaurant, bar, chef, pop-up, or trend that seems truly unique in some way, and no other publication has mentioned it, then that might be a story we want to cover.
  • From a geographic standpoint, we’re interested in pitches about downtown and the North Side of Chicago, of course. But — more than ever — we’re looking to the South Side, West Side, and beyond. We are interested in the wealth of exceptional restaurants that serve the various immigrant communities in Chicago. If you’re someone who is tapped into these vibrant food communities, we would love to hear your ideas for breaking news, feature stories, and curated maps.
  • Eater Chicago has a robust maps program that constitutes the flagship of service journalism for the site. However, the novel coronavirus has altered the map landscape. Health experts warn against indoor dining, so it’s hard to recommend people to risk their well-beings inside a dining room. With that in mind, we regularly publish maps as guides to neighborhoods, the best versions of a dish or cuisine, and to fill a situational need. We’re always looking for new maps, and to update popular ones. Writers preferably have expertise as well as passion for the pitched topic. Again, COVID-19 has altered the landscape. Maps about road trips into states where COVID-19 has surged, would not be a good idea. However, to-go cocktails would work.
  • We occasionally commission a variety of long- or medium-form feature stories and are looking to expand this area of coverage. Think chef or restaurant profiles, investigations, and deep dives into particular cuisines, food communities, and trends. If you have a great, off-the-wall idea that doesn’t fit into any of these categories, go ahead and send it.
  • If you are a member of the service industry and have a great story to tell, Eater Chicago can be the place to tell first-person accounts via Eater Voices. Keep in mind, these stories need to abide by the same journalistic standards seen in other Eater pieces.

Send pitches to ashok@eater.com or chicago@eater.com. Please, try not to send them via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. In your pitch, please clearly explain your angle on the topic, tell us why you’re uniquely positioned to report the story, and include links to prior work. If a particular chef or business has a back story that’s interesting or timely, find that out ahead of time and include it in your pitch. We try to answer all pitches that come in, but if you don’t hear from us in a couple of weeks, feel free to send a follow-up email.

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