So, you want to know more about writing an article for the Dominion? We're glad you asked.
While experience and the resulting expertise is a good thing in any field, we believe that anyone with a desire to research, ask questions and relate a story consistent with available information can—with a bit of guidance—write an informative account, and contribute to the available body of information. So if you have no experience, but want to tell a story, we encourage you to read on and get in touch.
What does the Dominion publish?
We're looking for stories that:
- Are underreported in the corporate press, generally underrepresented, or are subject to distortions and disinformation;
- Focus on the grassroots, in that the central subject concerns people who are not members of dominant or powerful institutions, and who are trying to address concrete problems.
And what style of articles does the Dominion prefer to publish?
We strongly encourage creative forms of journalism and departures from convention, but we do prefer that our writers know the rules before breaking them (and in order to break them). Some of our guidelines:
- Show, don't tell. An article should open out onto the world, rather than stand between the reader and the subject. If evidence supports an analysis of a state of affairs, then providing access to that evidence will be the most compelling illustration of that analysis.
- The journalist's job isn't to communicate facts in isolation, but to help the reader understand what's going on. In other words, a journalist should have an analysis, but should use it to generate questions, and convey the resulting information. A good analysis integrates historical and contextual understanding, but also provides room for other, conflicting accounts of a situation.
- A report should not state value judgements (e.g. this is good) about the subject, but citing the relevant opinions and perspectives of other observers can help further the reader's understanding.
- To that end, both research and interviews from a wide range of sources—including those who you may disagree with—are important. The general rule is that longer the piece, the more sources; anything 800 words or longer should cite three different interviews.
The Dominion publishes articles in a few different formats:
- The report is the most common format, and consists of a description of an event or situation. The Dominion publishes reports either 750 or 1,500 words in length. A report is based on more than one interview or source of information and addresses relevant background information. If the topic has been covered in the corporate media, that coverage is addressed, implicitly or otherwise. Example: Bitter Sweet or Toxic? by John Schertow.
- A photo essay consists of 6-12 photographs that form a narrative, with a short (under one paragraph) caption accompanying each image. Example: Toronto Housing Crisis by Allan Lissner.
- A review is a critical summary of a work of literature, with a current emphasis on literature from small presses, and is typically under 250 words. We seldom run longer book reviews, but are currently considering how to expand our coverage, so please be in touch if this interests you. Example: October Books by Murphy, Bull & Stewart.
- News briefs are much shorter (100-300 words) stories that summarize existing reporting about topics that are underreported, and likely to remain interesting after they are no longer strictly "new." Example: Briefly, the Olympics
- An opinion article makes the case for a concrete course of action, while contributing information that enhances the reader's understanding of the subject. Specific proposals about timely topics, from people directly affected by an issue, from experts in a particular field or direct responses to articles that appear in the Dominion are the most likely to be printed. Example: Through Canada’s Rez Zone Looking Glass by Stewart Steinhauer; Pushing the Debate by Alain Deneault
Want a better sense of the kinds of topics the Dominion covers? Take a look at our topics page.
Here are some topics we're consistently interested in:
- 2010 Olympics
- Canadian foreign policy and Canadian corporations abroad
- Indigenous nations and (de)colonization
- Social movements and social justice
- Arts and culture
- Critical research about health
- Co-operatives and economic alternatives
- The economic crisis in Canada
- Non-governmental organizations
- Sports from a critical social and political perspective
- Gender and queer issues in Canada
- Climate debt
- Tar sands
- The effects of the economic crisis on the working class, and resistance thereto
- Labour movements
- Stories about grassroots organizing
- Radical disability politics
- Other underreported stories
A few topics we're not interested in, except as a subject for critical coverage:
- Celebrity news
- The views of politicians and official "spin" on events
- New consumer products
- Stories that have been widely covered in the corporate media
If you have an idea and you're unsure, please take a moment to let us know about it, and we'll send you suggestions or feedback.
How to pitch to the Dominion:
At the end of every month we send out a call for pitches. While you can pitch any time, these calls include specific information about topics we are interested in covering that particular month. To sign on to the writers email list, send an email to email@example.com with CONTRIBUTOR LIST in the subject line.
To submit a pitch:
- Create an account at MediaCoop.ca if you don't already have one
- Visit this page to submit your pitch (you must be logged in with your account)
While you can submit a pitch anytime, we consider pitches the first week of every month, so you can expect en email back from us sometime between the 5th and the 10th.
Your pitch is often the only thing we know about you, and the only way we can judge your work. Some tips:
- Keep it short: No more than 200 words should suffice.
- Make it snappy: Don't just list what you will be writing about, but use the pitch to show us your writing style. If you can't make your pitch interesting, we won't know that you can make an 800 word article interesting.
- Check your spelling & grammar.
- Tell us why this is important, and, if timely, why now.
- Give us an idea of who you would like to interview and what kind of research will be done. As mentioned earlier, the longer the piece, the more people you should be interviewing and the more sources you should be consulting.
Keep these tips in mind, and you should be on your way to submitting a strong pitch.
If your pitch is selected, you'll be assigned an editor who will inform you of the deadlines for that month. First draft is usually due around the 15th of the month. Please submit your first draft as a file attachment, preferably '.doc' or '.rtf' format. In the document, be sure to include:
- A suggested headline
- The dateline (where you are writing from)
- A short, one line bio (if you provided one through the online pitch form, please say so)
- Mailing address(if you provided one through the online pitch form, please say so)
- Phone number where you can be reached in an emergency (email can fail!)
- Names, phone numbers & email addresses of people interviewed & a list of other sources (including where they can be accessed) for fact checking purposes
- Photo or illustration to accompany your article, if you have one
Descriptions and Guidelines for Particular Sections
GENDER: The "Gender" section explores gendered power relations from a critical (feminist, womanist, queer and trans-positive) perspective. The aim of this section is to cover the struggles and victories of women, men, queer and transgender people against oppression, marginalization, and exploitation, struggles which are ignored or tokenized in the mainstream press.
In general terms, writers for the Gender section should follow the Dominion's guidelines. You should also keep the following in mind:
avoid objectifying, essentializing, or exoticizing the subjects of your piece. The aim should be to represent them as agents, not as victims or statistics. One way to do this is to structure your article around an interview (or set of interviews) with members of affected communities. Build your analysis from their testimony, rather than fitting their testimony into your analysis.
avoid making generalizations about "women," "men," and other groups. The aim is to perform nuanced, careful analyses, not to reproduce the (sexist, racist, heteronormative, etc.) assumptions circulating in our broader culture. When you want to describe a general social condition, you should show how relations of oppression produce a patterned social experience for a given social group ( e.g., how colonial racism, misogyny, and State power subject urban aboriginal women to systemic violence). However, this analysis should be based on evidence and not assumed in advance.
be aware of your own social and geopolitical location when writing about groups to which you do not belong. Before you begin, ask yourself: "should I be writing this article?" "In what voice, with what intention am I writing about this issue?" Avoid sensationalizing the experiences of women "over there." Avoid cultural explanations for oppression that assume that some cultures are more progressive than others vis-à-vis women's rights or the rights of sexual minorities.
use inclusive, non-discriminatory language. If in doubt, consult the University of Victoria's Guidelines for Inclusive Language, GLADD's Media Reference Guide, or the Intersex Society of North America's Guidelines for Writing about Intersex.
ORIGINAL PEOPLES: The Original Peoples section features articles on First Nations, Innu, Inuit, Métis and Original Peoples elsewhere in the world, and is especially interested in, though not limited to, the work of journalists writing from an Indigenous perspective. Articles examining the indigenous struggle for justice and the return of land stolen by colonialists are often featured in the Dominion, but articles can also explore traditional culture, educational trends, the preservation of indigenous languages, etc.
Articles written for this section should include the voices of those most affected, ie First Nations People, and thus will involve research and interviews.
ARTS AND CULTURE: The Dominion’s Arts and Culture section (formerly the Arts and Literature section) tends to cover stories about non-traditional artistic and cultural production that is underrepresented in the mainstream media and created by or for people who are not members of dominant or powerful groups.
The subjects of the articles include cultural and artistic events, phenomena, production and issues that stay relevant even when they are no longer “new.” While there is a preference for Canadian subjects, they do not have to be written in or about Canada. For a sense of the topics we cover, please look at the Arts and Culture archives. We are always open to topics not yet covered as long as they meet our editorial mandate.
Stories should include sufficient history/background information of the subject and be written for non-experts. We require around 900 words accompanied by one or two photographs (from the public domain, by the writer, or with permission) and a short list of Web sites or other public sources for further reference. We also consider photo essays and artist pages that consist of 6-10 images and a short paragraph under each image (under 50 words) or one slightly longer introduction (under 150 words).