Here at The Chronicle of the Horse we love hearing from readers and fans, and you inspire many of the articles we write. Our goal is to inform, entertain and engage with our audience about all things horse sport as we bring you timely, compelling stories about people, horses and competitions. We try to balance coverage of major competitions with entertaining tales. While we pay attention to factors like geographic diversity, ultimately we’re looking for plain old good stories.
As an independent journalistic publication, we don’t trade money or advertising for stories. Plenty of folks suggest stories to us about a friend or a competition they’re involved with, and we gladly run with the suggestions that will be a good fit for us. Here are a few tips for how to pitch a story:
- Have good timing. As a news organization we’re working to keep you up to date on all things horse sport, recognizing that in this age of instant information you don’t want to hear about a competition from a few weeks ago. With that in mind, I’ll let you in on some of the secret inner workings of the Chronicle. On Monday mornings at 9:30 a.m. EST the editorial team meets to discuss what happened over the weekend and how we’ll spend our time and resources for the week ahead. (Of course we’re also addressing breaking news and issues that come up constantly.) If something happens over the weekend that you think we should know about, let us know as soon as possible, preferably before 9:30 EST on Monday. Also, remember that we work way ahead of time, especially on big stories about major issues. So if you have an idea for a really interesting rider heading to the Olympic Games this summer, now is the time to let us know.
- Be objectively interesting. When you contact someone at the Chronicle to pitch a story, ask yourself: What makes this story interesting to someone who doesn’t know the subject or their horse? Experience has shown us that certain types of stories tend to be especially engaging: stories about overcoming adversity; stories about balancing family, work and horses; stories about horses that are an uncommon breed or have an unusual background for our sports. We joke that our ideal subject is someone living with a disability and working a demanding job who manages to ride around an advanced cross-country course aboard her Morgan-Arabian cross fault-free. OK I exaggerate, but not that much. Wouldn’t you love to read that story? I know I would.
- Be willing to be open and honest. We don’t need to hear your deepest, darkest secrets, but opening up about the challenges you face will make for a more interesting story that people can relate to. One rider we’ve written about quite a bit opened up to us recently about some medical issues she’s having. The next story we wrote about her focused on how her horse and riding helped her deal with her health problems, and it turned out great. The subject loved it, the public loved it—everyone won.
- Have amazing photos. Sometimes we’ll do features on just one spectacular photo. We love receiving really neat photos and getting the story behind them, and our readers love them too. So if you see something, send it in. If you’re pitching a story, hopefully you’ve patronized a professional photographer or have had a talented amateur take some snaps. If it’s your one chance to get into the magazine or the website we want you to look as good as possible, so hopefully you can direct us to great images. (The Chronicle pays professional photographers for their photos.)
- Know the Chronicle. People who regularly read the Chronicle are often our best sources for tips. We have three main products: The Chronicle of the Horse magazine, which comes out 24 times a year and includes reports from competitions, features on issues in the sport horse world, and opinions from experts; the bi-monthly lifestyle magazine Untacked, which includes profiles on interesting equestrians, travel features, stories about artists and fashion spreads; and our dynamic daily website, coth.com, where we have breaking news, blogs, competition coverage and lots of short features covering a variety of people and horses in our sports. If you understand the various departments and products then it’s easier to know the kinds of stories we’re interested in, and you can tailor your pitch accordingly. For example, don’t send us pitches about polo or flat racing (we don’t cover them), but do send us your idea for a show jumper who rebounded from surgery to compete at the grand prix level again as an idea for our online Back From The Brink series.
To send in a story idea, email firstname.lastname@example.org.