How to write for us
Hello there! There are plenty of writing guides on journalism out there, and even a professional writing program on our campus, but we often get asked for specific guidelines about writing for The Medium. So here’s a short article intended to prepare you for writing for us!
By the by, as a former Editor-in-Chief wisely cautioned, we aren’t the be-all-and-end-all on writing. We encourage everyone who has questions or suggestions for us to email the editor at [email protected].
First, how does writing for us work?
Our writers are all students like you. They’re volunteers who offer their writing services to us, and then they can write as little or as much as they like—from doing only one article to becoming a regular contributor. If you write for us a lot, you’ll be named a staff writer, and if you want to have a bigger part in our company, it’s usually from our former writers that we elect our positions, including associate editors, section editors, and the Editor-in-Chief. It’s as little or as much as you like!
If you’ve just decided you want to write for us, the first step is to pick one or more sections and email the editors to offer your services. The sections are News ([email protected]), Features ([email protected]), Arts ([email protected]), and Sports ([email protected]).
One of two things will happen: you either have an idea for an article which you’ll pitch to them, or you just ask them to give you an assignment from their large bank of articles that need to be written. You’ll work something out.
Now for the actual writing. Our writers are volunteers, and some of them have never written for a newspaper before. Here are some tips:
- This isn’t academic writing. It’s not an essay, and we’re not professors. You don’t need fancy words or vague, complicated sentences. Use your day-to-day language! “But” is just as good as “however”.
- Be clear and concise. Aim to be understood, not to impress, and to say what you have to say in as little space as possible, not as much space as possible.
- Recognize the differences between sections. “News” should be impersonal, but you can use “I” and give your own opinion and experience in Features, for example.
- Avoid clichés and other “shortcuts”. Say something the way it sounds best to you, not the way it seems easiest or you’ve seen it most often.
- Plan your article before you sit down to write it. This can be as detailed as paragraph by paragraph, or as loose as “the things I want to talk about”. You’ll find it helps keep the structure tighter.
Done your article? Here’s how to submit it.
- Don’t worry about the font or spacing; all of that will go through a ton of editing and massaging before it gets onto the pages anyway.
- Run a spell-check if you can. Check all your names, dates, and figures, too. This makes it a lot easier for us.
- Save it as .docx or .doc if your word processing program has them. Try not to use .rtf or .txt.
- Email it to the section editor by Thursday night! And although you’re leaving the editing to us, be prepared to do more with it if there’s something that needs to be changed.
We can’t thank you enough for contributing to the Medium. Remember, we were once in your position, and it’s through doing exactly what you’re doing that this newspaper runs at all! In short, you are great.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
The Medium staff