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FiveThirtyEight Seeks Data-Driven Freelance Writers

We’ve hired our initial team of staff writers and editors, and we’re well on our way to building our team of visual, computational and database journalists. We can’t wait to show you their work. But we’re also looking for a few good men and women to contribute writing and analysis to FiveThirtyEight on a freelance basis.

Let me be a bit more specific about what we’re looking for.

First, and most important, we’re looking for freelance features and articles that involve original research, analysis, or reporting — specifically those that involve statistical analysis, data mining, programming, data visualization, or other data-journalism methods. FiveThirtyEight is not the right outlet for “smart takes,” opinion pieces, or long-form essays that don’t involve some data component. We would potentially have interest in features that involve shoe-leather reporting (i.e., interviewing, first-person observation) if they are numerate as well as literate, and help our readers put data and statistics into context.

Second, we’re looking for freelancers to cover relatively specific subjects — e.g. hockey, weather, the economics of food — as opposed to generalists. A list of subjects that we know we’d be interested in is included below.

Third, as the site has not yet launched, we’re thinking ahead and looking to develop relationships with writers to produce recurring series of articles for FiveThirtyEight. As a general guide, this might mean writing anywhere from once every other month for FiveThirtyEight to once every week or two. The articles might typically be somewhere between 750 and 2,000 words in length.

Fourth, we’re looking for authors who have a track record of publishing work under their byline. This could mean at The New Yorker, in an academic journal, or at an obscure blog. But we’ll want to be able to evaluate published examples of your work and consider how it might fit into our plans.

We recognize that these requirements are strict. But as disciplined as we are in our approach toward journalism, we’re hoping to apply it to a wide range of subjects in the news and in everyday life.

The following list of potential freelance topics is not exclusive: if you want to pitch us on an epic, eight-part series on the statistics of dog breeding, we’re happy to listen. But the subjects listed below are those we’re most likely to be interested in — especially those listed with an asterisk (*).

One major focus for freelance content is our science vertical. Potential subtopics within science include but are not limited to the following:

  • Weather* 
  • Health and medicine* 
  • Technology* 
  • Energy, climate and environment* 
  • Biology and neuroscience
  • Psychology
  • Hazards and disasters (e.g. earthquakes, asteroids)
  • Geography
  • Philosophy of statistics and mathematics

Our lifestyle vertical is broad. We’d be interested in people who provide data-driven analysis of these topics, along with others:

  • Education* 
  • Travel and transportation* 
  • Food and drink* 
  • Sex, dating and romance* 
  • TV and movies* 
  • Parenting
  • Music
  • Crime statistics and criminal justice
  • Games (video games or otherwise)
  • Gambling

Within our sports vertical, we have several writers on staff who provide coverage across multiple sports. But there are a couple of ways that we might expand upon their coverage, such as with writers who:

  • Focus on one sport in particular, e.g.
    • Baseball
    • Football
    • Basketball
    • Soccer
    • Ice hockey
    • Tennis
    • Golf
  • Examine the intersection between sports and other FiveThirtyEight verticals, e.g.
    • Sports science
    • Sports economics and finance

In politics, we have strong coverage of U.S. elections on staff, but we’d consider pitches in the following areas:

  • Congressional voting and behavior*
  • Fundraising and lobbying
  • Political rhetoric and media framing
  • Demographics
  • International elections
  • National security and military strategy
  • The Supreme Court and legal affairs

In economics, we have strong coverage of micro- and macroeconomic data on staff, but we’d be interested in someone with a strong understanding of:

  • Personal finance
  • Trading markets, or,
  • Overseas economies, particularly in the developing world

These are paying assignments. We have a schedule of freelance rates that can vary depending upon the writer’s experience, the time commitment involved in preparing the features, and other factors.

If you’ve been patient enough to read to the end of this post and have an idea that you think might be a great fit for FiveThirtyEight, we’d love to hear from you. Send us a note at 538FREELANCE AT GMAIL DOT COM. Give us a specific sense of what you’d like to write about, illustrated by sample headlines or short summaries. Tell us how you can do this in a differentiating and data-rich way. Include links to articles that you’ve published elsewhere. And let us know how to reach you. We look forward to hearing from you.

-Nate

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.

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