Pitch Guidelines for the Vice Life DeskOctober 27, 2019
Who are we?
The Vice Life desk manages coverage on the themes of health, wellness, self-care, sex, relationships, drugs, alcohol, and money. Our pieces explore consequences and power dynamics down to the level of the individual. We do not straightforwardly repeat the narratives served to us by powers that be; we question and think critically about how and why we live the way we do. We cover scientific research, current events, trends, and perspectives in short-form blogs, first-person journalism, and original reported pieces, as well as key franchise series that tap into the undercurrents of our modern existence as they relate to our health and relationships.
Our aim is to help people make sense of themselves and others, physically, mentally, emotionally, and professionally.
What are we looking for?
We are primarily focused on mid-length (700-1500 word) original reports and reported essays, as well as shorter, bloggier, voicier pieces with a quick turnaround time. We welcome first-person journalism that explores issues facing people today, or stories informed by personal experience and insight, though in the case of a piece that focuses entirely on these elements, we urge the writer to carefully consider what makes this story unique and why they are the right person to tell it at this particular time. We love a good explainer (though we already have a pretty robust body of them, so we’d ask that you’d check whether your particular subject of interest has already been thoroughly covered previously on vice.com).
We also welcome pitches for reported narrative features on the themes listed above.
Not all stories need to be pegged to current events, though a timely element can definitely help distinguish a pitch.
In addition to one-off stories, we have series/columns that freelancers are welcome to pitch into:
The Good Fight is a new essay series in which people tell us about the explosive, unexpected, or long-overdue fight they got into that changed their relationship with another person (or themselves) for the better, and what went down in order to make that happen. (Drama!) We’re looking for voice-driven, first-person narrative essays of around 1,000 words from contributors that are willing to go deep into the details of the conflicts that reshaped their relationships and points of view—including the parts that might be their fault. Rather than plaintive or wistful, The Good Fight is a funny, sometimes viciously self-aware examination of taking ourselves and others to task. This series will get at how and why we fight, what we fight over (however trivial, however sweeping!), what resolutions we come to, and what that ends up meaning for ourselves and the people we love (and are bothered by). Pitch with “PITCH: The Good Fight: “ in the subject line.
“Asking For a Friend” seeks to answer those life questions you are too afraid to ask on your own behalf about situations you’re maybe not entirely willing to own up to: Does CBD show up in a drug test? How much sushi is too much? How bad is it to ignore high blood pressure? Do I really need to wash my hands every time I pee? Is texting all the time making me socially weird?
The answers to these questions/scenarios should be voicey and comprehensive, unafraid to be realistic and meet the reader where they are at. Where appropriate, the answers should be include input from medical professionals or similar. Pieces should be 500-800 words long in scope. Pitch with “PITCH: Asking For a Friend: “ in the subject line.
Wellness Lies, a series that interrogates wellness trends and the scientific support for them (or lack thereof). Pitch with “PITCH: Wellness Lies: “ in the subject line.
This Is Fine covers a personal bizarre-or-serious-or-both habit that a contributor turns to in order to make their days better. These aren’t “self-care” guides, nor outright therapeutic or pathological—just individualized looks at the weird shit we love to do in our private time to feel good: marathon phone calls, eating fast food, breaking dishes, getting out of bed during semi-regular hours, painting weird things on our nails. Pitch with “PITCH: This is Fine: “ in the subject line.
Examples of pieces we’ve published:
- Why New Research Says It’s OK to Stay Single (and Die Alone)
- The Pursuit of High Self-Esteem Is Making Us Miserable
- The Psychological Effects of Grieving on Social Media
- The Outrageous Reasons These Women Couldn’t Get Their Tubes Tied
- The Hell of Getting Methadone When You’re Away from Home
- Sleep Deprivation Was More Powerful Than Antidepressants for Me
- Getting ‘California Sober’ Showed Me a Kinder, Gentler Way to Do Drugs
- How to Get Out of Bed After You’ve Been Laid Off
- We Looked into Whether CBD Would Show Up in a Drug Test
- The Effects of Collagen Supplements Are Way Overhyped
- How to Get Some of the Benefits of a Vegan Diet Without Actually Going Vegan
- This Is What Happens to Your Body if You Eat Almost No Carbs
- Celery Juice Is a Waste of Perfectly Good Produce
- The Rules of Being Good at Sex
- The Fat-Burning Effects of HIIT Workouts Are Exaggerated
- If You Want Me To Stop Saying Like, Stop Interrupting Me
- Truvada May Be Getting Unfairly Blamed for the Spread of STDs
- The New Report on Kratom Overdoses Is Scary But Kind of Misleading
- Men Obsessed With Being Fit Often Struggle With Drinking and Depression
What are we NOT looking for?
Pitches that hinge on broad skepticism for established science, “Western medicine,” or similar must have SUBSTANTIAL backup for the alternative being discussed; for instance, a single source with a financial interest (“Dr. Susan says stinging her patients with bees cures their autism”) does not meet the bar. This is not to say we don’t cover these subjects, but the angle is everything.
Stories that focus entirely on policy or business-to-business matters with a national or regional scope are better directed to the Issues desk (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Stories that focus on food are better directed to the Culture desk (email@example.com), though diet- and nutrition-focused stories will be considered.
I’m hooked; what’s the best way to pitch?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and please include “PITCH: ” in the subject line of your email. Give us:
- a sense of the sources you would use/speak to
- what length of piece you envision
- the date you’d be able to deliver a draft by
- what time pegs, if any, we’d need to be aware of to make sure the story publishes at the optimal time
- links to relevant previously published pieces
If you have further questions, please ask!