How to pitch Type Investigations

Type Investigations is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to transforming the field of independent investigative journalism. We produce high-impact reporting in partnership with print, broadcast, and digital media outlets — allowing us to bring our work to a wide range of audiences. 

Shrinking newsroom budgets have left an increasing number of reporters without the institutional support to pursue long-term investigative reporting. Our team provides journalists with expert editorial guidance; rigorous fact-checking; research assistance; and funds to cover their travel, time, and other reporting costs.

We are currently seeking pitches for investigative projects for 2022.

Please read below for more information about what we’re looking for and how our pitching process works.

What makes a story right for Type Investigations?

We cover the most urgent stories within a wide range of topic areas, including racial and economic justice, climate and environmental health, and civil and human rights. Our work is focused on systems, policies, and powerful entities, and we are committed to elevating stories from the communities most affected by wrongdoing.

The most important characteristics of a successful Type Investigations pitch are: 

  • Originality — Has this reporting been done before?
  • Rigorous evidence — Is there solid sourcing, data, or other documentation to support the story, and how feasible is it to obtain this evidence?
  • Potential for impact — Could this reporting trigger hearings or criminal investigations, change corporate policies, lead to new legislation, or expose inequality, corruption, exploitation, or abuse?

In general, we’re looking for investigations that incorporate compelling storytelling but go beyond feature reporting. We want to document wrongdoing and show who’s responsible — whether a company, a regulatory agency, or an elected official.

How do we work?

We partner with many of the country’s most prominent media organizations to examine today’s most pressing problems. Take for example this investigation into Senator Joe Manchin’s financial ties to coal companies in West Virginia, this one into working conditions within the booming home health aid industry, or this one into how the federal government has discriminated against Black farmers for decades.

We also believe that journalism can have some of its greatest impact at a local level. Examples include this article on the use of “gang contracts” in Illinois school districts, this one on how demolitions in Detroit exposed children to hazardous levels of lead, and this one on the use of surveillance cameras by the St. Louis police department.

In the face of the rapid consolidation of local news, we are actively seeking partnerships with local newsrooms that might need extra financial, editorial, and research support to dig into the issues they know best. 

We publish in a range of media. Most of our work appears in print and digital outlets. But we have also partnered with podcasting companies and radio programs to produce deeply reported podcasts and shows, such as this one on how states are collecting a wealth of personal data from people who get abortions, and this one on alleged sexual abuse inside Mother Teresa’s religious order

While we do not have in-house production capabilities, we are open to exploring different forms of storytelling. Please let us know if you have ideas about the best way to present your findings.

What stories are we looking for right now?

We are particularly interested in pitches on the following topics:

  • Communities, corporations, and governments responding to the climate crisis. As the climate crisis becomes increasingly severe, we’re interested in how people and institutions are reacting to a rapidly warming planet: who’s profiting, who’s getting left behind, and what new systems of power are emerging.
  • The long tail of COVID. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated systemic inequalities throughout society. We want to continue to highlight how COVID-19 has affected vulnerable groups and examine the failures of companies and U.S. government agencies charged with safeguarding workers and the public.
  • The radical right. In the wake of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, right-wing extremism remains a powerful and ascendant force. We want to continue to track this movement and uncover how it is influencing politics and society on a local, state, and national level.
  • Labor and economic inequality. We want to continue our long track record of exposing workplace discrimination and unsafe labor practices — highlighting the disenfranchisement of workers in the current gig economy, scrutinizing longstanding abuses, and holding individuals, companies, and regulatory agencies to account.
  • Threats to democracy. Particularly in the run-up to the 2022 U.S. midterm elections, we are interested in stories on disinformation campaigns, efforts to suppress voting rights, how partisan political firms are working to identify and influence voters, and more.
  • Reproductive rights. The intensifying battle over abortion rights has its roots in decades of conservative activism. We’re interested in stories that expose the connections between government and the Christian right — and how their agenda is evolving.

This list is not exhaustive, and we remain interested in articles that fall outside of these topic areas. Please take a look at the investigations we have published to get a sense of what we cover.

What we’re not looking for in pitches

We don’t commission traditional profiles, cultural essays, true crime stories, or epic tales of adventure. We also currently don't publish international stories that don't involve a U.S. policy, institution, or corporation.

If you are proposing an article that focuses on a particular individual or event, please be sure to explain how that person or situation can shed light on wrongdoing more broadly or help us understand a larger systemic problem — and what sources or other evidence you have to support the story.

We don’t expect you to have all the answers or to have completed your reporting before pitching. But you should be able to explain what information you still need and how you plan to obtain it.

How does the pitch process work?

The first step is to email us a short query — no more than a few paragraphs. Please include a few sentences on what the story is, why it matters now, and any unique angle or documents or access you may have.

If it seems like a good match for us, one of our editors will ask for a full proposal. At that stage, we’ll assess the proposal according to three main criteria: originality, feasibility of the reporting plan, and potential for impact.

We typically meet once a month to review proposals, though our editors do also consider time-sensitive pitches. Our decision-making process is designed to be informal and supportive. If a project has potential but we have questions about your reporting plan or budget request, we’ll contact you to ask for revisions.

Once a story is commissioned, we work with reporters throughout the editorial process, from refining the investigative target to guiding the reporting to helping to secure placement with a partner outlet. We then jointly oversee each project with the publishing partner, editing drafts and vetting findings.

Word counts and rates

When we greenlight a story, we cover the reporter’s direct costs associated with the investigative project, in addition to a supplemental reporting fee. 

Written features generally run between 4,000 and 6,000 words — though we do publish articles that are shorter and longer. Typical budgets range from $3,000 to $6,000 (including travel and other reporting expenses, as well as the reporting fee) and are based on the submission of a detailed reporting plan. We pay a portion of the fee upfront.

When stories are published, we expect partner outlets to pay reporters their normal article fee as well.

Please read our FAQ for more information.

Pitches, questions, and other inquiries may be sent to queries@typemediacenter.org.

Pitches may also be sent to one of the following editors:

Aviva Shen, Senior Editor
aviva@typeinvestigations.org

Sasha Belenky, Senior Editor
sasha@typeinvestigations.org

Maha Ahmed, Managing Editor
maha@typeinvestigations.org

Cassi Feldman, Executive Editor
cassi@typeinvestigations.org

We look forward to hearing from you!