Write for Us
Pacific Standard publications include a bimonthly print magazine and a daily website—PSmag.com—that put social and behavioral science research into lively, intelligent conversation with the news and the national debate. We are a great home for writers who can tell deeply reported, gripping tales while plumbing the intellectual, theoretical, and empirical context that surrounds them. We have a particular interest in stories covering economics, society and justice, education, and the environment. Our writers should want to make readers think about how society ticks—how individuals, institutions, cultures, families, and the like actually behave—and about why we do the things we do.
We are in search of:
At PSmag.com, we publish a variety of smart, fun stories—reported features, essays, columns, and more—that contain the qualities of the writing outlined below, but are particularly suited for our digital audience. That means we run multiple pieces every weekday that respond in some way to recent news and events and/or are especially shareable on the social Web. These pieces should aim to put us among the lively conversations happening every day online and contribute to our goal of becoming a must-visit daily destination site.
Our features take a number of forms: vividly reported stories or profiles that are deeply informed by interesting research; personal essays that ground sociological or cultural phenomena in lived experience; dispatches from the world of ideas, illuminating some new strand of research that promises to change the world or the way we look at it; or cogent, evidence-driven polemics that gleefully run against the grain of convention. And in whatever form, we love “conceptual scoops”—pieces that muster data, research, and reporting to powerfully reframe the reader’s grasp of an important but misunderstood subject.
These are short, 700- to 800-word, brightly and actively reported pieces that prize immediacy and immersion, either in a scene or an idea. The ideal Prospector deploys cinematic language, well-chosen quotes that impart a character’s voice, and tight narration. This is the place in the magazine where we want to give readers a sense of discovery—of stumbling upon an intimate scene. It’s also the place where we focus more on social and behavioral ideas that are “still in beta,” as tech people say. Subjects can be thinkers who are a little out there, new concepts that are outlandish but promising, or settings that are a little offbeat.
“The Five Studies You Need to Know About If You Want to Understand X:” This column consists of a short introduction, followed by five 150-word blurbs, each describing one salient finding from a piece of research. Together, the five studies should trace out an emerging new understanding of some important, popular subject. Ideally, the subject is timely, the studies are surprising and build on each other, and the writing is fun.
These two standing items in the magazine, each between 1,200 and 2,000 words, are reported essays that cohere around a strong argument or frame. They should give readers a new way to think about an economic topic or a cultural touchstone, and should be buttressed by an understanding of the social science literature that illuminates the subject.
We’re interested in critical essays that put books—one or multiple—in their most lively and relevant context. We aim to examine new works that fit loosely under the social and behavioral sciences rubric, or that can be analyzed from a social or behavioral science standpoint. Books under review can be popular or academic, provided they have value that can be harnessed for a broad lay audience. (Note: The magazine doesn’t publish consumer-oriented book reviews.)
LIFE IN THE DATA
Our back page consists of a short personal narrative essay about the interaction between a big social or behavioral pattern—be it demographic, psychological, economic, geographic, or cultural—and one’s own personal, lived experience. We’re not looking for reporting stunts; we’re looking for introspective autobiography and compressed, gemlike writing. Length: 700 words.
All Pacific Standard and PSmag.com articles should be sophisticated and engaging, should shed light on the new or the innovative, and should wear their erudition lightly. Writers receive careful, thoughtful, collegial, and stringent editing, with the aim of making sophisticated ideas and research accessible to an educated public. Queries are welcome via email; please direct print-specific pitches to firstname.lastname@example.org and Web-specific pitches to email@example.com.
Pacific Standard is looking for a staff writer to join our growing digital team. This full-time position with benefits (health, dental, vision, disability, life insurance, and an employee-sponsored 403(b) plan) will be based out of our offices in Santa Barbara, California; remote work is not an option. A natural curiosity for exploring the social and behavioral sciences to help readers garner a better understanding of national issues through the lens of human behavior and the latest academic research is essential. Bonus points if you have a background in one of our core subjects areas of economic, educational, environmental, and social justice.
The ideal candidate will:
• Write and produce two to three short, well-crafted posts per day on news and current events or subjects in the national conversation while juggling regular feature-length stories. (And know how to distinguish between stories that have same-day viral potential and those that would benefit from multi-day reporting projects.)
• Have a genuine interest in the social and behavioral sciences and be able to make complex ideas interesting and compelling to a lay audience while managing not to alienate experts.
• Be smart, fast, reliable, and accurate (but unafraid to admit fault and issue corrections when necessary).
• Ignore press releases, and have his or her own methods for generating story ideas.
• Be proactive about engaging and building an audience, reaching out to partners, and getting stories placed where there are eyeballs.
• Have a strong social media presence and access to a network of journalists and sources.
• Have a unique sensibility, an open mind about what kinds of things can make for a good story, and ideas for approaching heavily covered subjects in a way that can add value.
• Know his or her way around public documents and databases and be able to dig up primary source material when the subject calls for it (and know when it doesn’t).
• Have a proven sensibility for what does well online, and be able to adapt and learn what tends to get shared specifically by PSmag.com readers.
• Be eager to participate and contribute in a fluid way to larger editorial conversations surrounding our digital strategy.
• Want to make the Internet a better place.
This is a new position for Pacific Standard and one that comes with a lot of freedom; it will be defined largely by the person selected for the opportunity. The staff writer will be working most closely with an existing digital team of five (with plans for continued growth in 2015), which consists primarily of editors who work with our large network of contributors. Due to that structure, this hire will quickly become a major presence on—and affect the tone of—our site. Other than the strategic thinking everyone on the team contributes to, our new staff writer’s only responsibilities will be reporting, writing, and the light production work required to assemble and publish posts (no editing or other miscellaneous tasks as the position is currently envisioned), so voice is key.
This is a fairly high-velocity job, but we’re committed to maintaining our distance from the worst tendencies of the Internet. No hot takes. There will be plenty of quick posts and short stories, but we always want to be thoughtful and add value; it’ll be your job to figure out how best to do that.
Send a resume, salary requirements, and, in lieu of a traditional cover letter, your ideal day-to-day outline for this position (What might your typical workday look like? If you had this job today what stories would you cover, how would you find them, and how would you approach them in a unique way appropriate for Pacific Standard? Etc.) to Nicholas Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications without all of the above will not be considered.
ABOUT PACIFIC STANDARD
Pacific Standard grapples with the nation’s biggest issues by illuminating what shapes human behavior. We examine the institutions, customs, psychological tendencies, and galvanizing ideas that define modern life, and we look for insights that will unlock a better future. Through our publications and events, we explore the science of society—focusing on economics, justice, education, and the environment—with a broad community of readers, contributors, and thought leaders. We believe in the power of cutting-edge empirical research to shed new light on human affairs. And we believe in the power of great storytelling to make vivid and persuasive what is otherwise abstract.
ABOUT THE MILLER-MCCUNE CENTER
The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Santa Barbara, California. As a private operating foundation, the Miller-McCune Center strives to not just inform, but also to promote meaningful dialogue by reporting, in clear and concise language, the latest and most relevant scientific research and innovations shaping the issues of the day. We satisfy the intellectually curious while arming business leaders, politicians, scientists, and other policymakers with the information and tools they need to work toward solutions to the most pressing issues.