Foreign Policy Pub Looks for Local COVID-19 Angles

Editors of a journalism-format on-line publication that covers "foreign policy for the rest of us" have called for writing that takes local stories regarding COVID-19 responses and applies them toward more global understanding.

"It’s hard to gauge the full effects of this pandemic. We’d like your help to fill in the gaps," editors at Inkstick Media recently tweeted. "If you can, share with us the expertise that only a local knows, and help us better understand the big picture."

"With your help we can document how far/in what ways COVID is changing our lives. With a problem that’s simultaneously local and global it’s easy for important stories like this to slip through the cracks. Your contribution of your expertise can make sure your story isn’t left out."

Questions editors are asking include, but are not limited to:

  • How are levels of funding for your area’s disaster response?
  • Do you have enough supplies? Are you able to redistribute a surplus to needy areas?
  • Does your infrastructure need help?
  • Where are shortfalls happening?
  • Where are people doing great jobs?

For writers guidelines, click here.

Named after a military slang term for a writing pen (it has legitmate historical roots, too), the on-line journal Inkstick "reaches beyond the policy bubble to deliver relatable human stories alongside hard-hitting news and analysis." Editors seek contributions regarding national security, diplomacy, and military topics from "across the political and ideological spectrum." Editors call for submissions in three categories or formats:

Brief, conversational analysis of no more 700 words each. The editors write:

Don’t shy away from the facts. Our readers aren’t dim or uninformed, they just don’t want to read your droning wonkery. Humor, pop culture references, and snark are encouraged. Cursing is allowed. Flagrant use of acronyms and policy jargon need not apply. Find another way to say JCPOA.

Essays of any length. The editors write:

Tell us a story—you know, an article with (at least some) elements of character, setting, plot, conflict, or theme that help the reader to better understand a broader issue. Think "The New Yorker," not "The New York Times." Op-ed style pieces should be submitted as articles and adhere to article guidelines and limits. For essays, length isn’t an issue. Pictures are nice, but not required. Proximity is key—in other words, your piece should be personal or relatable.

Interviews of any length. The editors write:

Inkstick is interested in conducting interviews with diverse foreign policy innovators and folks with good stories to tell. Someone we should know? Drop us a line. We’ll take a picture of their pretty face.

Inkstick has published new text content as recently as April 2020. However, related podcast, "Things that Go Boom" has not been updated since July 2019. The podcast appears to be seasonal.

One caution, however: Prospective contributors should also take note of potential copyright claims contained in the website's terms and conditions, which read in part:

By submitting any material to us, such as by posting a comment to a chat group or a bulletin board, or by sending us an e-mail or other form of message, you are thereby granting us a non-exclusive license to reproduce, display, distribute, modify and create derivative works from such material and to use such material and the fact of your authorship of it for marketing purposes.

For writers, such "copyrights upon submission" language is is extremely problematic and potentially predatory. Because of this language, The Aiming Circle recommends sending only pitches and queries—no actual content—prior to arriving at a mutually beneficial and legally enforceable agreement with editors.

Story pitches and/or spec pieces may be directed via e-mail to: lheeley AT inkstickmedia DOT com.

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