Scalawag is a magazine and website focused on the American South, dedicated to thoughtful reporting, original thinking, and stories in many forms. Our contributors include both new voices and folks who’ve written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and more. We pay every contributor.
We’re interested in untold stories, fresh perspectives, and original thought covering the nuances of life, politics, and culture in the American South. We publish nonfiction, poetry, and fiction, as well as state politics coverage and photo essays.
For journalistic writing: If you're interested in working on a story that falls into any of the following categories, please send your pitch in the body of an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with an indication in the subject line as to which focus area your work falls into.
We're currently seeking stories that fit into the following content verticals:
Arts and Soul
We believe in art and poetry’s ability to name that which otherwise can be almost impossible to articulate. Indeed some of the greatest power in Southern art comes in its ability to illuminate the infinite registers of life here—all its profound beauty and haunting cruelty. The South has birthed a cataclysm of brilliant and radical visual art, prose, and music, we want to amplify and share this radical brilliance with our readers.
For our “Arts and Soul” content, Scalawag wants your album/lit/art/show/film reviews. A successful review is one that profiles established and emerging musicians, artists, and authors here in the South while critically and personally engaging the work in the context of the current political and social moment and the artistic traditions at play.
In particular, we seek works on the following themes: rural South, queer South, migrations, emerging traditions, Southern sounds, art as community-building, art and political organizing.
We welcome submissions from both emerging and established art makers, cultural organizers, and writers. Multimedia submissions are welcome. Photoessays should be 8-10 photos with an introduction and detailed captions, or a full length essay (800-1000 words). Other writings should range between 500 and 1500 words.
Race and Place
To riff from Katherine McKittrick (“Black matters are spatial matters”), we believe that race matters are place matters. The way we view and treat the places we’re from and the places we make for our communities shape not just who we are, but also what we want our futures to be. And our ability to shape place for our desired futures is heavily shaped by the power dynamics of race, gender, sexuality, ability, and so on. The consequences of those power dynamics are everything from the treatment of Black spaces as “dumping grounds” to the bold creation of dance/pleasure clubs like Pulse in Orlando, by queer people of color—and their heinous destruction.
Scalawag’s Race and Place initiative seeks to expand traditional conversations about environmental racism, climate change, segregation, gentrification, and freedom movements to better understand both the nuances of how places are made and for whom, and how we can transform power to create the future places of our dreams. We’re looking for pitches that consider the connections between these conversations in places as big as nations and as small as living rooms. In particular, we’re interested in reported pieces, essays, and even fiction about Black and Latinx rural placemaking, alternative relationships to land, connections between environmental racism and climate change, policing/incarceration and toxicity, radical placemaking for pleasure (e.g, dance clubs, social clubs), and classic investigative reporting on the impact of policies and economies on the placemaking of communities of color.
Stories should range from 800-1,500 words. Investigative articles can be up to 2,000 words. Multimedia submissions are also welcome.
The mechanisms of political control are invisible to most of us, cloistered within obscure regulations, rules governing the operations of government agencies, and the meeting minutes of unheralded committees and task forces. When certain laws and policies do make a splash in the public eye, there's another invisibility cloak often at play: one that hides the role of people who are organizing to change conditions in their communities for the better, who are shaping our society just as much as those with official titles and their wealthy influencers.
Scalawag's political reporting strives to reveal (and make interesting!) the unexpected and little-known ways in which systems of oppression are perpetuated in the South. We look for reporting that centers the stories of communities directly impacted by injustice that are exerting people-power and changing the political landscape.
Right now, we're looking for stories about migration across the U.S.-Mexico border. We are especially interested in stories that tell us new things about what's happening to the children kidnapped by the federal government.
We are also looking for reporting about the state of HBCUs in the South. Congress increased their funding earlier this year, but does the hike go far enough? What other challenges are these schools facing at the state and local levels?
Stories should be between 1,000 and 2,000 words; we need more that are on the shorter side! We're prioritizing pitches by reporters of color.
We also encourage interested writers to join our contributor list, where we periodically send around topics we’re hoping to see covered.
Feel free to view our contributor guide for more on the kinds of stories we generally look for and how to pitch us.