Contributor Guidelines

We're thrilled that you want to contribute to JUST CAUSE Magazine. That fact, in and of itself, means that you care about the community, want to express yourself, think others can learn from you and believe that you can make a difference. We believe that too. In fact, we pretty much live by those words. HOWEVER, you would be amazed by how many people send Alyssa emails every day wanting to be a writer or photographer for JUST CAUSE. At first it was thrilling, now it's overwhelming, soon it will be stressful. So before you email us, please read the following guidelines. Some of them are “technical” in nature, and some are just an idea of how to help us like you.

Know what you want to write about, and ONLY pitch us real stories. 

You need to pitch us an actual story idea. There are a lot of great writers out there, but we only work with the ones that write stories we want to cover.

  • Put your title in the subject line. “Salmon Return To Local Shopping Malls”
  • Tell us what the story is, why it matters and how long will it be. (Nothing is more than 3,000 words in JUST CAUSE, and most stories are between 500 – 1,000.)
  • Tell us what sources you will be using, what statistics you have, and why you are the person to write it.

Know what we cover. 
We cover, as the title would suggest, “Just Causes.”

  • Our Coverage sectors are Arts, Education, Healthcare, The Environment, Civic Causes and International Issues.
  • Our print magazine covers national and international stories, only. Very occasionally we may be so inspired by a local story that we profile it, but for the most part, all of our features are national and international in scope.
  • We are looking for stories about the issues themselves as well as organizations, businesses, corporations, donors, volunteers and events that are working to create positive change in the world around them.
  • WE DO NOT COVER BLAME, FINGER POINTING, NAME CALLING OR YOUR PERSONAL OPINION ABOUT WHO CREATED THE PROBLEMS, WHY OR HOW. The easiest way to say it is this. We are not Michael Moore. And we don't want to be. We do not believe in yelling, belittling or being mean. There are a lot of problems out there, and there are a lot of reasons for them. Our goal is to help people create constructive and positive dialogue about the very real issues that we all face in the hopes that if we come together, we can learn something and work to create positive change. So, if you want to pitch us a story about a politician you don't like, a business you are offended by, a person who bothers you – well, DON'T. Pitch it to your local weekly paper. If you want to pitch us a story about a local entrepreneur who created an interesting way to give back, that's what we want. A major corporation that is changing the way they do business, cool. An organization that is filling a gap, excellent.
  • We don't “greenwash” things. We have a keen nose for cover-up, so if your story idea is 100% pure PR, don't bother.
  • Because our stories are intended to help people understand the issues and inspire them to create solutions, we need FACTS. It's not enough to just be “touching.” We will need statistics, facts, evidence, credible sources etc….. Be sure that you can support your “pitch” with actual information about the size of the problem. (IE, “ public schools aren't all that great ,” isn't a story. “ In Seattle, 67% of children of color can't use a computer, but one innovative inner-city program is sending 96% of graduating students to college….” Now that's a story.)
  • We don't do travel stories. With a few exceptions. We will cover eco-tourism and various volunteer / donor trips, and we will travel to get to the source of a compelling international issue. However, the chances are really good that Alyssa or Dave will be doing those. There's always room for negotiation here, but the chances are pretty slim that either one of them will pass up any opportunity for a cool trip.
  • We do cover parties and fundraisers. We need both local and national stories here. While we are definitely party people who enjoying playing dress-ups and having a cocktail, we are trying very hard to make the point that there is more to raising money than having parties. So, invite us, offer to cover the parties, sure, we're there. But we also want to know when a neighborhood is pulling ivy out of a park, when a band of folks is climbing a mountain for clean air, when a neighborhood is feeding the homeless etc………..

Who is Writing for JUST CAUSE? 

Our founding editors, Alyssa Royse and David Batstone write some of it. We have editors in all of our cities who write some of it. We have an incredible editorial board that will be writing some of it. But we use A LOT of freelance talent. Pitch stories directly to Alyssa, and she will pass them off to the appropriate editor.

Who's Providing Photographs for JUST CAUSE?

The vast majority of our photos will be coming from stock photo companies and photographers that we already have a relationship with. However, we will be assigning some of our feature stories – both national and local – to photographers. If you are interested in providing photos for us, please send us a link to samples of your work. But, there are some things you need to know:

  • We know that the work you do is skilled, artistic, important and expensive for you to produce. That's why it is expensive for us to buy. We understand that and respect it. However, there is a difference between commissioned portrait / event work and editorial work. We can't pay thousands of dollars an hour.
  • From our perspective, it is “risky” to hire photographers. What if we pay you to do a shoot and you don't get the shot? Then we have to rehire someone, pay again, and hope they get the shot (which we can't do if it's a one-time event.) We've had this happen. And we've had to deal with sad, angry, upset people. We just don't want to do that again. It hurts everyone and we don't want to hurt anyone – not you, not us. This is why we have a no kill fee policy. And we are sticking with it. We also use the same “rights” as with our editorial content. Simply, if we publish it, then it will be on our Web site as well, and non-profit organizations will have the right to reproduce the article – with illustration and photography - however they wish in order to promote their cause. That's why we do what we do. If that doesn't work for you, then we can't work together. It's nothing personal, that's just the way it is.
  • There are exceptions to all rules. We can be flexible if you can be flexible. More than just great photographs, we are looking for great relationships, and we will do almost anything to get those!

Rights etc…

We buy rights of first publication for stories, illustrations and photographs. We will be putting ALL of our content on our Web site and they will remain in an accessible archive until the end of time. Our stories contain important information and we want to world to be able to read it. (This is one of the reasons we pay more than most magazines.) After 60 days, all publication rights revert to the creator – you can publish the story again wherever you want to. However, in all of our talent contracts, we give non-profit organizations the rights to reproduce our magazine – with any editorial or artistic content, including bylines and applicable art credits – in order to promote their cause. This is a luxury they need and cannot afford. If you have a problem with that, don't bother contacting us, it is NOT negotiable. We will do the same for you, however. We will provide you with 5 copies of the magazine and a spiffy PDF of your story that you can use however you wish as well. Fair is fair.

Have a story idea, but aren't a writer?

Great. We have lots of writers, and always need more stories. Send us a simple pitch letter to editor – at – justcauseit – dot – com and be sure to include all of the following:

  • Story title in the subject line: “Retired Janitor Uses Retirement To Clean Up His ‘Hood.”
  • Give us an outline of the story, any statistics or facts you have to support it, tell us what sources we can use to write the story.
  • Tug on our heart strings a little….. Whether it's a personality profile, an organization profile or a national story about healthcare, tell us why we should care…
  • Tell us how to contact you if we want to pursue it.

Please Include clips of previously published stories

We need to see 3 previously published samples of your magazine or newspaper writing. Please submit those along with your pitch. We need you to send these as attachments, not as a link to your website where you have dozens of clips. We don't have time to go through all of those, and we want to see the samples that YOU believe represent the kind of writing you would do for us. (That tells us a lot about you.) If you have not previously published anything, that's ok too. But be honest with us about what your skills are and why you want to write for us. Please send us samples of something that we can look at as a representation of what you are likely to write for us.

When Will I Know If You Want To Do my Story? 

Well, you'll know when we call you and tell you so. We are busy and cannot answer every query we get, we just can't. If we want to do your story, we will let you know. We will hang on to it for up to a year. So, if you want to try and place it somewhere else, please let us know. Give us a deadline. That may or may not help. “ I want to do this story on the plight of fuzzy squirrels. Because it is a timely issue, if I don't hear back from you by June 3, I will be trying to place it in another magazine.” That would be good – we really like honest, upfront people who can speak their mind. That will probably earn you future brownie points as well.

What Else Do I Need To Know About Working With JUST CAUSE?

  • The most important thing is that you have to be both nice and smart. DO NOT SEND PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE emails to Alyssa or anyone else. “This is the 2nd time I've asked you to send me writers guidelines, can you please do so ASAP?” Um, no. “I have contacted you 3 times about covering this organization and…..” We will hit ‘delete' before the end of that sentence. We don't speak to people that way. (In fact, this paragraph is about as mean as it gets for us.)
  • You need to know what we write about. If the above long-winded explanations didn't do it for you, then look at the stories on our website, which are some simple samples. More importantly, perhaps, read Alyssa's editor's notes…. Those will give you good insight into how our founders think and write.
  • We are interested in specific stories, not writers in general. Please do not send us an email telling us that you are a great writer – while we are sure that's true, that isn't really what we're buying. We are buying stories. And if your writing is as good as your story -and you're fun to work with - we'll use you over and over again, but the way in the door is with a good story. We are not likely to respond to general writers queries, only to specific story ideas.


(It's not that we don't like you, it's that we are almost always slammed, really slammed. If you call and we're slammed, it may annoy us – straw that broke the camel's back in the middle of a distribution negotiation or something - and we may hold a grudge against you even though you are a totally nice person and don't deserve it. If you happen to call when we are not slammed and feel like chatting, that could be ok., but it isn't a risk worth taking. Trust us on this!) 
We will only accept queries - of any sort - via email. 
Send queries to Alyssa Royse (please spell her name correctly) at editor – at – justcauseit – dot – com.