Basic writers’ guide
First, thanks for your help – without voluntary contributors like you, there would be no ‘Eel.
Top three tips
- Follow the brief or the pitch you sent. If you want to go off piste, please check with the editor first.
- Please don’t exceed the maximum word count and suggest we edit it.
- For features, please chat to relevant people and include direct quotes from them. We want to ‘hear’ their voices to make your article come alive.
Keep it real
Please, PLEASE write in real, everyday English, avoiding jargon and acronyms and gobbledegook.
The ‘Eel is a consumer magazine and website, not a third-sector report, scientific paper, university thesis, regurgitator of press releases, or newsletter for a small clique of people with detailed knowledge about any particular subject..
Keep your piece unpretentious, conversational and relevant for Londoners in their everyday lives. You might want to read it out loud to yourself to be sure you’ve written in a way that people actually speak.
- News items (ie short, informative articles about something new): No more than 300 words
- Features: Profiles and more in-depth articles about particular subjects should be no more than 1000 words
- Keep it positive, focus on the solutions
- Be direct and use an active voice (as opposed to passive)
The Jellied Eel is the magazine of London Food Link, which is part of the national food and farming charity Sustain.
When writing for The ‘Eel, please remember that it is the good food magazine for London.
Of the feast of fabulousness London has to offer, we focus on the organisations, enterprises and people in the capital that go one or more steps further down what we believe is a good food route.
Items on this menu include:
- Working to be waste-free – food and packaging.
- More veg and less, but better, meat and dairy.
- Seasonally-local food that’s organic or otherwise grown in a planet-friendly way.
- For anything that can’t be grown locally (eg tea, coffee, chocolate, citrus) it needs to be Fairtrade or otherwise fairly-traded.
- Anything fishy must be from sustainable sources and loaves must be Real Bread.
- Genuinely healthier choices for body, mind or both
We’re particularly keen to throw the spotlight on enterprises, organisations and individuals who are doing good through food, helping to create better lives for Londoners and making the capital greater.
Your article could focus on just one person or organisation, or you might choose to pick a topic or theme and then mention several working in that area.
Read more about good food: www.sustainweb.org/sustainablefood/#good_food
Without resorting to sensationalism, your article needs to grab people’s attention and keep them reading, so front load it with key facts and the most interesting points.
- Make the headline short, punchy and interesting
- The first paragraph is what will ‘sell’ the article, so in no more than 40 words (ideally fewer), set out what the article is about, including the most interesting points and key facts.
Accuracy and impartiality
A basic rule is to get your facts right. We don’t include references as footnotes, so you need to make it clear in the article upon what you are basing any statements of fact, eg: ‘according to…’ or ‘as noted in X’s 2012 book Blah Blah’. If you include an opinion (either your own or someone else’s) make this clear, eg ‘I feel’ or ‘X says she believes’, ideally including why it is held.
The ‘Eel is here to champion people we believe are doing good things, but articles aren’t advertisements or puff pieces. Not matter how fab people and enterprises are, please steer clear of hyperbole. If you’re writing a profile on a single person, initiative or enterprise, we encourage you to mention others doing similar good work.
We often edit items edited for length, content and tone. Please don’t take it as a criticism of your work. Submitting an article means that you understand and agree that we may do this.
We may send you back to you for a redraft or polish and/or for fact checking and will give you a steer of what we need if we do.
When you interview or mention someone, please pass the following details (as applicable) back to the editor.
- Name of enterprise/project
- Type of enterprise/project
- Contact name and email
- Twitter and other social media accounts
We may use these to contact them, for example to check facts, let them know when the article is published and mention them on social media.
Ideally, you will supply a photo to illustrate your article. It needs to be landscape (ie wide, rather than tall), ideally 3x2 aspect ratio, a minimum of 800pixels wide, in focus, light and not blurry.
Please only supply a photo for which you must have the copyright holder’s (often the photographer) permission to publish and include details of the photo credit with your article.
If you are lifting something from the internet, check the usage rights. It needs to be marked as public domain or had a Creative Commons license for reuse: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/
- The Jellied Eel/London Food Link/Sustain reserves the right not to publish any article or news item without giving a reason.
- Articles are submitted on the understanding that they may be edited for length, content and tone.
- The medium (magazine or online) in which published articles appear is at the discretion of The Jellied Eel.
- Editorial is independent of any advertising and The Jellied Eel does not run advertorial content.
- Details of events should be added to our calendar and job/volunteering opportunities to our Roots To Work site
We are working to make The ‘Eel self-funding through London Food Link supporter payments and magazine advertising.
We’re sorry we are unable to pay contributors. While many people are keen to write and photograph for us, getting what they need in return in a form other than cash, we totally respect the people who decline to contribute their time and skills voluntarily.
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