Pitching To Newspaper Food Sections

January is Profit From Your Passion month at mediabistro.com, and this week is for the foodies. They’ve got 10 tips for pitching your food stories, and number one is: Be a local — or at least write like one!

The best way to break into newspaper food writing is by pitching your local paper: Editors say local reporters are more likely to understand the region’s food culture, to spot news and trends sooner, to turn around stories faster and to offer better local reporting. (Plus, out-of-town wine and spirits writers tend to exasperate editors by citing vintages that can’t be sourced locally; if you’re writing on those topics, you must check availability directly with local retailers.)

For writers interested in pitching to the food section of the LA Times, here’s a breakdown of the etiquette:

Reported stories, news stories, and restaurant coverage are almost never freelanced beyond a few regulars. If you’re interested in breaking through, try pegging your pitch to a seasonal angle. Keep pitches brief, via email, explain your background, and send any clips as links, not attachments. For recipe stories, the word count ranges from 800 to 1,000 words, plus recipes; if it’s a reported story on an interesting subject, they can go as long as 1,200. Pay rate varies, but Parsons says they will “pay as much or more than any other newspaper in the country for a good story.” For seasonal stories, be sure to pitch at least three to four months in advance.
Assigning editor: Russ Parsons, RUSS dot PARSONS at LATIMES dot COM