Want to win intensive, one-on-one mentoring and earn $200 by producing a freelance story for UPI.com? You’ve come to the right place! We’re looking for up to three student journalists to come up with a text, photo, audio or video story for our wire service. Interested? Here’s how it works:
- Pitch your best story idea on the topic described below. Be sure to email the story pitch to email@example.com by Wed., March 28. In the email’s subject line, write “UPIU Freelance Story Pitch.” Your pitch should be no more than a paragraph or two. Give us a clear, concise description of what the story is, and why readers should care. Also, tell us who you plan to interview. Give us an idea of how equipped you are to complete the story by the deadline.
- We’ll take a look at all the pitches and select the top two or three. You’ll hear back from us by Fri., March 30.
- If your story pitch is selected, you’ll work with your mentor to come up with a detailed story outline by Wed., April 4.
- Once your outline is approved by your mentor, you’ll have until Wed., April 11 to produce your first draft.
- Final stories will be due on Wed., April 18.
So, what’s this story supposed to be about?
We’re so glad you asked! This time around, we’re interested in story pitches on a very specific topic: Smoking.
Many U.S. lawmakers have a take-no-prisoners approach to the fight against smoking. Tobacco, a crop that was, and in some cases continues to be, a staple for farmers in the U.S. for generations, now has such a bad rap that it’s illegal in more than two dozen states to smoke in restaurants, bars, offices and other places. Graphic warning labels could soon appear on cigarette packages sold in the U.S., replacing the current black-and-white text warning. Lawmakers in some areas are toying with the idea of banning smoking in cars in which children are riding.
Still, smoking is a cultural mainstay in much of the world. Tobacco in various forms is an integral part of social life in a host of countries, despite global efforts to stunt the popularity of the carcinogen.
If you live outside the U.S., has the government in your area taken steps to ban smoking? Is tobacco use growing? Must cigarettes sold in your country contain warning labels? What about smoking in films? Is it allowed?
If you live in the U.S., is your area following the national trends when it comes to smoking? Is tobacco still as popular as it once was? Are there trendy new forms of smoking (hookah, anyone?) taking the place of the traditional cigarette?
Come up with a compelling news story idea and send us the pitch!
Is there anything else I should know?
Yes! Throughout this process, you’ll need to follow some basic guidelines:
- You must have be a journalism student and have a UPIU account to be eligible for this contest. Professional journalists and people without UPIU accounts are not eligible.
- If we discover that you have a conflict of interest regarding your story, we’ll discontinue your intensive mentoring, even if you’ve already started working. A conflict of interest exists when a reporter has a personal investment in a story. For example, if you’re writing about a farmer who pays you to help out every weekend, that’s a conflict of interest. If you write about a company at which a close friend or relative is an employee, that could be a conflict of interest. If you’re not sure, ask us BEFORE you start reporting.
- If you miss a deadline, we won’t submit your story to UPI.com, and you won’t earn a byline or $200. If you think you’ll be too busy to meet the deadlines, don’t apply.
- We’ll ask the students whose story ideas are selected to give us their contact information, including cell phone numbers and email addresses. If you don’t provide working contact information, we won’t be able to provide you with mentoring.
- As always, plagiarism is unacceptable. If we discover plagiarized material in your story, you’ll no longer be eligible for UPIU mentoring. If you have questions about our plagiarism policy, please contact us.