Be sure to read “What you need to know about working with PublicSource” first.

Pitch to PublicSource

We welcome journalists and community members to pitch story ideas to PublicSource. Find our pitch forms here. We do our best to respond to every pitch we receive. If you have any questions about pitching, please reach out to managing editor Halle Stockton at halle@publicsource.org.

Freelance Rates

We use the following standard rate table to determine payments for content contributed to PublicSource.

PublicSource will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment that violates federal, state or local law in the workplace, including in relation to compensation and rates we set with contributors/freelance journalists. This refers to discrimination (but not limited to) on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, citizenship, or disability (or any other prohibited ground of discrimination as defined by federal, state or local law). 

As a contributor/freelance journalist, please set fees with PublicSource ahead of taking an assignment. PublicSource evaluates information known about an assignment and the contributor’s experience in conjunction with the rate schedule set below to make a judgment about the fee to offer. If, during the course of reporting, there is reason to believe that the scope of the work is changing, please discuss with your editor for direction and rate adjustment prior to undertaking additional work.

Content typeDetailsFee
First-person essaysMost essays fall between 800-1,200 words.$300
Event coverageGenerally 600-1,000 words.$300
Resource guides/explainers This format typically includes research, resources and may include a few voices$400
Enterprise storiesEnterprise stories include several interviews and limited use of data and documents on complex topics.$600
Investigative storiesInvestigative stories include multiple interviews and extensive use of data, records and documents.$1,000
Event photographyThere is a range here because events we cover range from meetings to protests and beyond. The fees may vary depending on situation, time and hazards.$80-$120
Portrait photography$80
Use of photos not commissioned by PublicSource$30 per photo
Fact-checkFor the reviewer role. The reporter’s role in the fact check is included in story fees.$50

There are times when a contributor/freelance journalist starts to work on a topic and the story may expand into a package or series. At those times, the contributor/freelance journalist and PublicSource should discuss the changes and reevaluate the fees.

When stories not commissioned by PublicSource are offered to PublicSource, the fees offered may not directly follow the rate schedule set above.

If you are providing your works to PublicSource as an independent contractor, you will therefore be responsible for the payment of all federal, state and/or local taxes with respect to the works transferred to PublicSource and/or the services you perform for us as an independent contractor.

Freelance Contract

If we mutually agree that you will contribute to PublicSource as a freelance contributor/freelance journalist, you will be asked to sign a contract outlining the terms of the relationship.  We will provide a template copy of that contract to anyone who is interested in reviewing standard terms before pitching.

Besides signing a contract, freelance contributors must submit a W-9 form to PublicSource and fill out a conflict of interest form. PublicSource conducts a background check of all freelance journalists, which includes a criminal background check, Megan’s Law search and general internet screening.

Kill Fees

Sometimes things just don’t work out. When that happens, we typically pay a kill fee of 25% of the agreed-upon rate. We ask for common sense and courtesy on that, however, in such cases where we may agree on a big investigative project and then, for instance, two days later something happens that kills its potential, we reserve the right to alter the proposed kill fee and expect good-faith negotiation from both sides.

Invoicing for Payment

We ask all contributors to send us an invoice upon publication. If publication is delayed by PublicSource, we will notify you of scheduling changes and, barring any concerns about getting to publication with the content, we will issue payment before publication in those cases. The content provider should feel free to raise any concerns.

Reimbursement of Expenses

As defined in our contract, PublicSource will reimburse you for reasonable expenses incurred during reporting. This includes parking and mileage for commuting to interviews (reimbursed at the federally defined mileage rate). We appreciate having a discussion in advance about expected expenses.

Contributors can submit expenses using a Google form which PublicSource will provide and you can expect to be reimbursed within two weeks.

Fact-checking & Editing

Reporters and contributors for PublicSource participate in the fact-checking and editing processes as follows:

  • Participate in initial edit, responding to editors’ notes within the story draft and making adjustments to the story as needed. Yes, we ask a lot of questions and we do our best to make your reporting and writing shine. We suggest cuts to streamline and clarify the writing and if the word count substantially exceeds our recommendation. The editing process can take time. But we do our best to set expectations on time commitment and do try to be as transparent as possible with communication by using Google Docs’ ‘suggesting mode,’ and we’d like you to do the same. If you don’t know how to use it, we will walk you through it.
  • Please share any concerns with us about a story, a source, or/and the timeline we set. We will help to find a solution. Unless we know it, we are unable to support you. Be transparent and honest.
  • Fact-checking is vital to our organization’s credibility, and the process catches many mistakes. You should see the fact check as additional support we’re providing to you. Populate a fact-checking template form provided by PublicSource editors with each section of your story draft, citing sources, notes, interview transcripts and records. Either the fact-checker or editors need to see sourcing behind each fact.
  • Support an independent fact-checker in validating each component of the story. Provide additional materials, answer questions and/or update the story as needed.
  • After fact-checking is complete, respond to any final editing notes in production of the final story.
  • Assist in helping our visual journalists line up visual components to the story by filling out a Google form request for photography and a separate form for graphics. (We will provide you with links).

Please address any questions about this information to info@publicsource.org.

(This page has been updated in March 2021)