Guidelines for Contributors
Do you have a story idea?
Good! Here is what you need to know. Proposals must meet these criteria.
AramcoWorld relies on freelance text, visual and multimedia journalists, as well as subject specialists who demonstrate ability to address non-specialist readers. Assignments are made by contract with Aramco Americas. All previously published stories can be found on this site and in our archived subject index.
Here is what we look for in a proposal.
- Storyline that is positive, timely and globally appealing to a broad, primarily (but not exclusively) non-Arab, non-Muslim readership. We look for a working draft of a nut/thesis graf in a proposal.
- Appeal to non-specialists as well as specialists.
- Coverage of any aspect of cultural, scientific or historical Arab and Muslim worlds, including arts, archeology, history, geography, biography/profiles, cross-cultural connections, innovations, technology, trends and more. What will the story reveal that until now has been unknown or underappreciated?
- Protagonists and primary/live sources of Arab or Muslim heritages ("local voices/insiders") mixed as needed for the subject with those of other backgrounds.
- Bright, fresh, appealing, smart style: Impress us with your writing samples, please.
- Strong background research.
- Accuracy and fairness to professional journalistic standards.
On the other hand, here is what AramcoWorld does not publish:
- Politics, religion, poetry, memoirs, academic papers; fiction, travelogues, foreign-aid stories and unpegged, generically topic-driven stories.
- Conflict, controversy or negative stories, even if they have positive outcomes.
- Boosterist, uncritical, promotional stories.
- Stories that appeal primarily to readers with regional or heritage cultural backgrounds.
- Stories that turn on stereotypes or clichés.
Even then, we may turn down an idea if it does not fit AramcoWorld well for any other reason.
- Words: 500 to 2500.
- Visuals: Most assignments are from one to six days, leading to use of 4 to 20 still images and 30 seconds to five minutes+ video/multimedia.
You may be wondering:
Who reads AramcoWorld? Curious people around the world. Most of our readers are not from Muslim- or Arab-heritage backgrounds, but many are. In our reader community, the magazine broadens and deepens appreciation of positive interconnections among Arab, Muslim and other global cultures, past and present. Does your story idea do that?
Does AramcoWorld have a point of view?
Start with a globally inclusive curiosity that works to dispel underlying assumptions of "us" or "them." Add to that dispassion, skepticism, empathy and the "golden rule”: AramcoWorld represents its subjects in ways that its writers, editors and publisher would also wish to be represented.
What parts of the world are you most interested in?
Everywhere! Find Arab or Islamic cultural connections that fit the characteristics above and you are probably in our space.
What background do I need to show?
Demonstrated professional skill, reliability and flexibility.
OK, I really think you will like my idea. How do I frame my proposal so you will accept it?
- Know us, online and in print. We are happy to send print issue samples, and all editions are available by PDF.
- Introduce yourself. Remember that every editor wonders not only, “Is this a good story idea?” but also, “What will this person be like to work with?” How are you at planning, follow-through and troubleshooting communications, deadlines, logistics and expenses? What’s your track record? References are great.
- Samples are helpful, but editors often wonder how much other editors put into published samples. How strong are your drafts? Are you a creative, nimble revisionist?
- Length proposed should be both ideal and essential: What you’d like and what you could live with.
- Visuals: If you are a writer, how would you suggest we handle the story visually? If you are a visual journalist, what are the words (or the audio)?
- Schedule: Lead times of two months up to a year are best.
What are your fees?
Our rates are midrange, and they vary with a contributor’s background, location and the complexity of the story. Travel and other expenses are reimbursed at cost, based on a documented invoice. We do not give advances. Fees are paid on acceptance, except for photo space rates. (See next.)
For visual journalists:
Day-rate assignments are contracted for all rights (work-for-hire) at midrange editorial day rates suitable to those rights. Expenses are reimbursable; there are no advances. We also assign and license still photography on a space-rate basis for which fees are calculated on print-edition usage size or online-only flat rates.
Space-rate stock is licensed for one-time world English print and one-time all-language online rights for the life of the publication.
Space-rate assignments are contracted either for the one-time rights above or, if expenses are reimbursed, for all rights (work-for-hire).
Visual style is documentary and narrative. It is not travel, pictorial, personal or in any way idealizing. It either complements a text or uses a text as its complement.
Captions frame the understanding of still images just as audio frames the understanding of video. Insightful captions and clean audio endear visual journalists to both editor and reader.
When will I hear back from you?
Expect acknowledgement of receipt by email within a few days. Formally, we review proposals on a two-month cycle, but favor always shines on the compelling. If you have not heard from us, yes it’s fair to nudge us and ask when you can expect a full response.
What if I have an idea and want to run the basics of it by you first to see if it’s worth a full proposal?
To where do I email my proposal?
email@example.com (attachment limit: 10mb)
Subject Line: Proposal / (Your subject)
We look forward to hearing from you.