Pitching Stories

Orientation

We are interested in how religious motivation impacts social and political life: the ‘So what?’ question.  We are a world affairs charity, not a religious charity.  We just believe world affairs don’t make sense unless religion is taking into account.

There are two News Focus pieces a week, uploaded in Delhi at noon on Wednesdays and Fridays.  These are hard news pieces, strong, sharply written with a slant that can’t be found anywhere else, demonstrating good religious literacy.  It is a focus, not just a story. Lapido works on the religion angle behind world affairs and we offer to Dig Deeper, Go Further, Be Fairer.

We do not write ‘religious news’, unless it concerns a major scandal that has been ignored.

We use not just the same range of sources as secular journalists, but include the Christian/Muslim/Hindu/other religious sources too. 

If we are writing about a catastrophe in Congo, we interview not just Médicins Sans Frontieres; we go to the people who run the show and have not just been parachuted in: this is always the local faith group and they are always ignored as commentators in the usually mistaken belief they will be ‘biased’.  Yes, religion is a bias – but it’s one towards justice and the poor.  

We emulate The Economist’s objectivity and the Sun’s tabloid style.

The best Focus we have had has come from Dr Irfan al-Alawi.  He offered us a great scoop, and the analysis to back it up.  http://www.lapidomedia.com/supreme-leader-of-wahhabism-gets-royal-welcome-in-india

 

Pitching

We inevitably work at speed.  Pitching properly is therefore crucial to getting your story published efficiently.  The Media Manager or Director have little time for setting up stories and the pitching should therefore be as comprehensive as possible.  The pitch should include:

  • The peg (topicality)
  • The angle (the actual story in brief)
  • Who you’ll quote/contacts
  • Why your analysis matters
  • Picture ideas

 

Planning

We use Google Calendar, and Foresight News for planning. Foresight offers us several portals and we offer it free to any stringer who merits it.  Access for both from Ops Manager John Atkinson on operations@lapidomedia.com

 

Wordage

7/800 words max.

 

Pictures

You MUST supply us with two original pix where you can.  These must be pin sharp.  On no account will we accept blurred or fuzzy images.   Pix need to be at least 300dpi, as big as possible or they do not reproduce on facebook, and usually a strong mugshot for the Home Page.  Pix MUST be credited and you must indicate you have copyright permission where you do not originate.

 

Deadlines

We need convincing by Friday evening at 5pm that the story you have pitched will make for the following publication slot on Wednesday. 

Monday noon for first draft (normally).  That gives us Tuesday for getting further sources etc. 

Wednesday 8.30am final draft for upload at noon.  Friday ditto.

Increasingly as the world itself becomes more religiously literate, and stories are becoming increasingly salient and topical, we upload on the day, subject to resources.  We are fundraising to improve our ability to do this. 

 

Types of Pieces

The website carries four kinds of pieces: News Focus, Analysis, Media Briefing, Blogs and Reviews.

News Focus is hard-edged, no-frills focus on a news item that we will rarely ever be able to break, but which nonetheless will have been missed by the mainstream Western media. They are a very important way of flagging up what we deem to be among the hot-button issues of the week.  Examples:  http://www.lapidomedia.com/muslims-monopoly-word-allah and http://www.lapidomedia.com/bamiyan-buddha-lives-again  750 words.  Commissioned and paid ave. £100 – 150.

Analysis provides background to a running story that’s little understood.  Exampleshttp://www.lapidomedia.com/analysis-yoga-india-gift-humanity-muslims-hindus-argue  and http://www.lapidomedia.com/analysis-brotherhood-call-retribution  1,000 words or more, commissioned and paid ave. £150 – £200.

Media Briefing is a longer backgrounder – we aim for about two a month – that carries a huge amount of facts in a brief document, complete with links, and perhaps some contacts to fill in all possible gaps in the discourse.  Written by a specialist e.g. Jayson Casper in Egypt writing about the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Copts.  Paid, £200.

Blogs  are usually unsolicited. They are a luxury platform for individuals to let off personal steam about something.  They can be confessional, but cannot pass as the last word on a subject. They imply reaction through comment.  Unpaid. 

Reviews   These may be commissioned or not.  700 words, lively, pithy.

 

Fees and Selling-on

You are expected to sell-on your work.  Straight re-publication and re-drafts must either be credited to Lapido (‘First published by … ‘) or refer to ‘Lapido sources’ in the copy.

Our fees are negotiable depending on your location, seniority and the strength of the material.  We have paid from £60 and (rarely) up to £300 for exclusive investigative piece.  £250 for News Focus plus linked analysis.  Fees are payable within 28 days of receipt of monthly invoice.  Reviews and blogs are not paid for.  Always ensure you know the fee at the point of commissioning. 

Invoice to be sent to accounts accountant@lapidomedia.com  Queries regarding payment to him in the first instance.

 

First Tuesday Meetings

Correspondents and stringers occasionally meet by Webex on the first Tuesday of the month at 09.30GMT/BST to discuss forthcoming stories, and build a sense of community.  Once you have published a piece with us, you will be able to attend.  Webex is an online communication hub that is managed by the meeting host, and you will be automatically sent instructions with an invitation to which to respond.  Please make sure you’re au fait with this before the time appointed.