How to Pitch Stories to The Drive
We want your stories! In return, we will give you money. Everyone wins.
If you love driving, or at least have a vested interest in the future of how human beings get around, it's easy to be confounded by our current state of affairs. Internal combustion engines are better than ever, but they're on the way out. Newcomers like Tesla are blowing legacy players like Ford out of the water, at least on Wall Street. One disaster after another has led to tons of caution around autonomous cars, which were once supposed to be only just a few years away. And it feels like every day, a new tech startup shows up that promises to revolutionize everything—long as they're allowed to figure out "profitability" much later. How do you make sense of it all?
Luckily, The Drive is here. Our mission for 2020 and beyond is to help you, the reader, sort all of that out.
But we also need you. More specifically, we need your stories.
I'm Patrick George, and I run editorial operations for The Drive and The War Zone. And this is a formal call to arms for freelance story pitches. While we're hiring for several full-time staff roles this year, and we have more hires planned, we always need big, high-quality, ambitious feature stories. Here's what we're after.
On the automotive side of things, we're grouping our coverage into three primary areas: motoring, for our test drives of new and old cars and motorcycles and more; technology, to explore the changes coming to how we get around in an intelligent way; and culture, or all the things that people like us are talking about on the internet and in real life. If you're thinking of pitching us a freelance story, it may help to keep your idea in those general lanes.
Whether you're a veteran journalist or an ace beginner who thinks they have what it takes to become the next big byline in this business, we want to hear from you. But first, here's what we're after.
How To Pitch Us
I'll get this part out of the way first. After you've read these instructions carefully, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If your pitch is viable, we'll be in touch! If it isn't, we probably won't. Don't take it personally.
Our rates for freelance stories generally start around $500, but we are known to go higher depending on length, ambition, word count, the amount of work involved and our total monthly budget. And we work very hard to ensure prompt payment for our contributors.
What We Want
Strong journalism. Generally, every story is better if you go out and talk to people, do some interviews and get a diverse array of sources to ensure your work is as thorough as possible. We'll give heavy consideration to stories that involve a lot of original reporting.
Explainers. Do you have the definitive, authoritative deep-dive about a new type of technology? Can you write a detailed explanation of your EV conversion project? Are you able to do a rigorous examination of some major issue that's been in the news lately? We absolutely want to hear from you, especially if your story is in the tech space.
Big, fascinating culture features. We don't want stories everyone has heard before. We want outsized feature stories about what's going on in automotive culture right now, or at the very least, a take on something that's novel and revolutionary.
We're interested in who's actually making money in motorsports. Or how wildfires threaten legendary parts of motorcycle culture as our hobby grapples with the reality of climate change. Or the lessons from aviation that can be applied to autonomous cars. Or the difference between buying the vehicle you need and cosplay. Or races between mass transit and cars that show how the two need to work more hand-in-hand for a better future. We especially care about the ways that passionate, informed enthusiasts like you can help find ways to solve some of the problems cars have created, like pollution and traffic congestion.
Get creative. We're an independent site that isn't beholden to decades of baggage and expectations. We're free to experiment and try new things here. If that's up your alley, keep us in mind.
Stories from the greater wheelhouse of transportation in general. We're car enthusiasts, first and foremost. But we care very much about the future of how people move. The auto is fascinating because it touches almost every facet of our daily lives and global business. To that end, we're after stories about design, climate science, traffic, the environment, labor, personal finance, public transit and more.
Stories that are interesting to everyone, not just car enthusiasts. Sure, this website is focused on cars and transportation. But the very best stories, even the ones about cars, are the stories that anyone can find interesting. Pitch us stories with humanity, with heart, with universal themes—stories that resonate with everybody because they're interesting and meaningful. Car and Driver is still famous today for the Cannonball Runs of the 1970s. That saga about more than just cars: it's about lawbreaking, egos, underground cultures, danger and, yes, even pushing the limits of technology.
(Having said that, do not ask us to send you on a Cannonball Run. It's far too much paperwork on my end if you get arrested.)
You tell us. Like I said, we're experimenting a bit with what we want to do around here. See anything we're not currently doing that we should be doing? Let us know.
What We Don't Want
Daily news stories. We have a whole team that does that, and we won't be spending our freelance budget on it.
Very short items. See above.
Fiction or satire. This is a news website. It isn't a literary journal.
Random car reviews, or requests to drive press cars. If your story is just "I drove this car and the car was good," you should probably reconsider that pitch. If you drove something notable, what did you take away from it all? What does it mean for the future of motoring that we focus on here? We want a pitch with a smart, fully conceptualized thesis around it. That's far more useful to us as a publication than something that was just a memorable experience for you.
We're also much more likely to spend our freelance budget on reviews from trusted, known-quantity industry professionals over total newcomers. If you've never done this before, don't ask us to put you in a $180,000 Porsche. We have all sorts of reasons we can't do that. If you do happen to be new at this game, we're eager to hear any other good ideas you may have. (And if you want advice on how to break into this business, you can always email me directly. I'm happy to help.)
Stories where you go on a road trip. In my experience, this makes up a huge chunk of the freelance pitches received by automotive outlets. I'm not saying don't do this—I am saying that if that's your pitch, it had better be really damn interesting and original for us to even consider.
Stories that need a ton of editing work. We're a team of skilled, patient and experienced editors, but we don't have time to do surgery on every piece. Your pitch will be far more compelling to us from the get-go if it's well-thought-out, cleanly written and cohesive.
If you're a newcomer with a talent for this, don't be discouraged! But make sure you're only sending us your very best work, and give us a reason to give you a shot.
Press releases, pitches on behalf of companies and agencies or sponsored content. Those will be ignored and probably ridiculed behind your back.
If you have any questions, drop them in the comments or shoot us an email. We're excited to see what you've got.