Submission guidelines: How to pitch to Live Science
Live Science welcomes news, analysis, explainer and feature pitches from freelancers. Here's everything you need to know about submitting a story idea to Live Science.
Live Science regularly publishes freelance news, features and explainer pieces.
The first step to a successful pitch is to read stories on our site. We cover everything from fascinating archaeological discoveries from ancient Egypt, to bizarre ancient sea monsters, to wild theories about the birth and death of the universe.
Before you pitch us, please read our editorial standards carefully. All pitches should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the email subject line, include the channel you're pitching, the type of pitch, a proposed headline and a filing deadline.
Sample email subject line: PHYSICS NEWS PITCH: Black holes may be even darker than we thought, deadline Feb. 23.
Sample email subject line: HEALTH NEWS ANALYSIS PITCH: Obesity guidelines for kids recently changed. Are they safe?, deadline Feb. 11.
Please read on to learn how to pitch specific types of stories in particular subject areas.
Types of stories we accept from freelancers
When you're pitching a news story, ask yourself three questions: Is it interesting? Is it new? Is it important? For Live Science to cover a story, it needs to meet at least two of these three criteria. Stories also need to capture the attention of someone who has no background in the field. Please make sure you have access to key images (or note if we can use stock images) for the story.
When you pitch, please include a proposed headline for your story, a proposed deadline (if it is embargoed, please include the embargo time) and a link to the source of your story (such as a study, press release or news clip). Then, include a few sentences explaining what the findings are, why they are important and why the story is a good fit for Live Science. Also include the number of sources you propose to interview for the story.
News pitches should be no more than 100 words. News articles are typically between 300 and 600 words. Only pitch stories that are currently trending if you can quickly turn around the copy (often the same day). Embargoed stories or those that have been covered less extensively may have longer lead times. News stories should cover studies that have been published recently (in the past few months). Please check the site prior to pitching, to ensure we haven't already published the findings.
We typically publish dozens of news stories per week.
News analysis pieces
News analysis pieces answer a compelling question about a topic in the news. For instance, when a bumper crop of UFOs floated above the U.S., Live Science published an analysis of why they were being discovered all of a sudden.
News analysis pieces should be fewer than 1,000 words. We prioritize analysis pieces written by experts in the field or by journalists who have covered a topic extensively. To be timely, news analysis pieces should ideally be published within two days of a pitch, so a fast turnaround is critical. Pitches should include a proposed headline, which is typically framed as a question. The body of the pitch should be roughly 100 to 150 words. Pitches should describe how you will answer the question and which sources you will contact.
We typically publish about one analysis piece per week.
News explainers are comprehensive stories that cover everything about a topic that has been in the news. For instance, when scientists proposed using brain organoids growing in petri dishes as biocomputers, Live Science explained everything there is to know about minibrains. And when scientists sounded the alarm about the proliferation of space junk, we described what space junk is and why it's a growing problem.
Pitches should be roughly 100 to 150 words and include a proposed headline and a link to the trending news. In your pitch, please explain why the topic merits an explainer, as well as a bulleted list of the questions you will answer in the story. These questions are most often ones commonly searched on the web.
We typically publish one explainer every week or two. Most explainers are written by staff, but we also commission news explainers from freelancers with deep knowledge of the topic they're pitching.
News features are stories of no more than 2,000 words that answer a larger question or cover a broad change in a scientific field, such as what scientists have learned in recent years about extreme longevity. These stories have longer shelf lives than news analyses do. We publish news features about once a month, so the bar for accepting a news feature from a freelancer is higher than for our other stories.
News feature pitches should include a proposed headline, a sample story map elucidating the story structure, and links to proposed studies and research the article will cover.
Feature pitches should be about 300 words and include a list of proposed sources to interview. The rule of thumb is that features should include one interview for every 500 words of text. Most features are written by Live Science staff writers, but very occasionally, we accept pitches from freelancers.
Life's Little Mysteries
The Life's Little Mysteries (LLM) series answers fascinating questions about the world around us and the stuff in it, using evidence-based science to shed light on matters big and small. These mysteries are intriguing, not boring or obvious. We report on highly searched mysteries (e.g., How deep is the Mariana Trench?; How big can animals get?) as well as offbeat but compelling ones (e.g., What is the 'call of the void'?; Why are there no bridges over the Amazon River?).
LLMs usually have one or two expert interviews and cite a number of studies. The length is about 600 words. We have a list of LLMs we assign, but you are also free to pitch. Just make sure we haven't covered the mystery.
Pitches should include a proposed headline framed as a question, body text of no more than 100 words explaining what the answer to the question is, and which sources you intend to contact.
Pitch guidelines by channel
From towering dinosaurs to lowly "penis fish," Live Science covers animals both past and present — and the stranger, the better. Bizarre or unidentified marine animals discovered at sea or washed up onshore are often hits with readers, as are stories about strange fossils and mummies that are not what they seem. We cover discoveries of new species if there is something particularly weird, superlative or fascinating about them, and always favor stories with excellent, compelling photos or illustrations. Animals that our readers love include sharks, spiders, ferocious or jaw-dropping dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts, weird sea life, and whales. We typically do not cover animal intelligence or behavior studies, but we make exceptions for especially odd findings — like these beetles that fling pee with butt catapults.
Live Science covers archaeological finds that many other outlets overlook. Topics of particular interest to our readers include ancient Egyptian discoveries, ancient Roman finds, treasure hoards, stunning facial reconstructions and sunken battleships. We also report on anthropology findings about human evolution and ancient human genetics.
Live Science covers science, not history, so archaeology stories should use some scientifically vetted technique to elucidate the past. For instance, we may write about archaeologists using lidar to reveal hidden Maya cities beneath the rainforest, or radiocarbon dating or isotope analysis to understand who is buried in an Iron Age tomb. We also report on major discoveries unearthed in traditional archaeological excavations, such as this ancient Roman 'spike' defense made famous by Julius Caesar or this giant ceremonial sword unearthed in Japan that was used to ward off evil spirits.
By and large, Live Science covers health studies and clinical trials conducted in humans, not animals. Rare exceptions are made for animal studies that reveal particularly surprising disease mechanisms or that involve compelling experiments that could not ethically be done in humans. We cover medical conditions and research findings that have relevance to a wide audience or that explain a key or fascinating mechanism in the human body. (If scientists discover a previously unknown body part, that's definitely one to pitch!)
Whenever possible, the studies featured in our health stories should include a large number of participants (always more than 10, but depending on the health condition, hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands). We prioritize covering clinical trials that are randomized and placebo-controlled over observational trials. We do sometimes cover preprints (which have not yet been peer-reviewed), but in doing so, we always have experts weigh in on the caveats of the work.
We also cover unusual case reports. Usually, these reports highlight an unusual or unknown medical condition, such as the case of magic mushrooms growing in a man's blood after he drank a psychedelic tea.
Live Science readers are particularly interested in viral diseases and surprising findings on COVID-19, such as COVID-19 mixing up our fight-or-flight response; new body parts or cell types, like this long-sought immune cell that scientists only recently found; parasitic diseases; reproductive health; sleep; genetic research; and therapeutic uses for psychedelics.
Live Science's human behavior stories largely elucidate why humans learn and behave the way we do. For example, these articles might delve into how memories are stored in the brain; why stress can derail our ability to think and perform tasks; and even how scientists define consciousness (if they really can).
Broadly, this vertical encompasses topics in psychology and neuroscience that wouldn't necessarily count as health-related. (Neurological diseases, for example, would fall under our health section.)
Many of our most popular human behavior stories reveal something fascinating or unusual about the way the brain works — for instance, how a memory trick used by Sherlock Holmes really works, how the brain uses a universal language network and what happens in gymnasts' brains when they get the "twisties."
At Live Science, we cover everything from the tiniest subatomic particles that make up the cosmos to the biggest structures in the universe. Our readers are fascinated by stories about how the universe began and is likely to end, about the spooky physics of quantum mechanics, the arrow of time and the physics of black holes.
Physics stories that are particularly successful address a fundamental question about the universe — for example, why we are here, what the universe is made of, and what laws govern matter.
We do not cover incremental technological innovations, but we do publish stories about truly transformative changes that will have a large impact on the world.
At Live Science, we are fascinated by major geologic transitions that transform Earth. These may include topics like major earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and the hidden dynamics of Earth's interior. For instance, stories about new minerals hauled from deep inside the planet, Earth's hidden eighth continent, and big weather patterns have been a hit with readers.
Live Science also covers major studies on climate change and how it will impact the planet in the future. We do not cover stories that raise skepticism about human influence on climate change.
Live Science readers find stories about near-Earth asteroids, meteor strikes, the physics of the sun and discoveries on Mars particularly interesting. Stories that highlight gorgeous celestial objects or discoveries of awesome new space structures are also especially fascinating to readers, especially when accompanied by a dazzling telescope image or compelling illustration. Live Science readers are intrigued by black holes, like this runaway black hole speeding through the galaxy, as well as new discoveries about our home galaxy, such as the James Webb telescope finding the Milky Way's twin. We also cover major skywatching events, such as total eclipses, meteor showers and large planetary conjunctions.
We do not cover minor shuttle launches, but we do report on major missions, such as the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Artemis program and the Double Asteroid Redirection Test.
We also cover credible news about UFO/UAP reports, as well as developments in the search for extraterrestrial life. We do not give in to sensationalism or conspiracy theories, but if an unfounded theory takes off in the mainstream media, we will publish occasional debunker or explainer articles, such as this piece explaining what UFOs flying over Ukraine likely are.
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Tia is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.