1. Getting started
The majority of articles published in Broadview magazine and on Broadview.org are assigned to professional writers and journalists. It is a real treat for us to receive story ideas that stand out from the dozens of submissions we receive each week.
If you have a story idea, here are some questions to consider:
- Is your idea fresh?
- Is it tailored to suit Broadview readers?
- Has a similar idea been published in the magazine or on our website?
- Can you see a section in the magazine or online where it might fit?
- Are you comfortable with the likelihood it will be edited for structure, length and style, or the possibility that you will be asked to make revisions?
- And most importantly: Why this story, in this publication, for this audience at this time?
On occasion we accept unsolicited articles submitted by readers or writers. But the best approach is to send us a pitch before you start writing. That way we will be able to tell whether your idea has possibilities as a stand-alone article or as part of a larger story for one of our regular sections.
Your query should briefly summarize what you want to say in your article and provide us with some idea how you propose to tell the story.
Whether or not we accept your idea, be assured that we appreciate your interest in Broadview. Unfortunately, given the volume of submissions and pitches we receive, we are not always able to respond to each one.
Editor/publisher Jocelyn Bell explains more about what we look for in this interview.
2. What is Broadview all about?
Broadview exists to serve a niche audience of progressive Christians, as well as those who share similar core values. Our three editorial pillars are: spirituality, justice and ethical living.
We understand this means being both introspective and outward-looking. It requires us to examine our beliefs and values, and to live and act accordingly. It calls us to engage deeply with the justice issues of our day — and to believe that hope lies in caring profoundly for one another and for our planet.
We serve this audience through multiple platforms, including a print magazine, a digital presence, events and more.
Broadview magazine is published 10 times per year; Broadview.org showcases new content daily.
3. When did Broadview first publish?
Founded in 1829, Broadview is the oldest continuously published magazine in North America and the second oldest in the English-speaking world. In its 190 years, it has been called The Christian Guardian, The New Outlook and The United Church Observer. In spring 2019, it became Broadview.
Since 1986, Observer Publications Inc. has been independently incorporated, which makes it unique among major North American denominational publishers. The magazine and digital platforms sets its own editorial policies and program and is overseen by its own board of directors. While it maintains a healthy relationship with The United Church of Canada, it does not speak as the denomination’s official voice and receives less than six percent of its funding from the United Church’s General Council.
Throughout its history, the publication has won international acclaim for journalistic excellence and garnered more awards for writing than any other Canadian religious publication.
4. How do I submit an idea?
You can send any query or manuscript by email to Jocelyn Bell, Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you already have an idea of where your story best fits, you may also email one of our section editors:
- Snapshot — Kristy Woudstra, email@example.com
- Perspective — Andrew Faiz, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Features — Jocelyn Bell and Kristy Woudstra
- Spotlight — Caley Moore, email@example.com
- United Church in Focus — Elena Gritzan, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Disruptor — Andrew Faiz, email@example.com
- Emma Prestwich, firstname.lastname@example.org
5. What happens after I send in my idea?
The publication’s full-time editorial staff makes decisions on editorial content. We receive many story pitches each day and regret that we cannot respond to all of them. If we like your idea, you will hear from us within a week or two.
6. What are you looking for?
We are interested in stories about spirituality, ethical living, social justice and the United Church. Stories should target the interests and ethos of our readers (see section 7). They can be investigative features, engaging profiles, first-person narratives, reported news stories, essays, photo essays, opinion pieces, blogs, interviews or reviews of books or film. (Please see the department descriptions in Appendix A).
We plan our print issues about six months in advance and our online stories anywhere from days to weeks in advance. Please keep this in mind when suggesting time-sensitive pieces.
We only rarely cover events. We almost never publish fiction, and only accept poetry from published poets. We are happy to receive review suggestions, but usually only commission reviews for upcoming books, movies, podcasts and exhibits.
7. Who are your readers?
Our readers are intensely loyal to this magazine. Most have a college education or more. Among our current subscribers there are more women than men, and more older people than younger. Recent market research shows that we also have the potential to reach more men and more younger adults.
More important than demographics are the values that our readers share. Broadview readers are spiritual people. Most identify as Christian and have liberal social values. They care deeply about human rights and social issues, spirituality and faith, inspiring human interest stories, the environment, culture and mental health.
They believe it’s important to continue to learn throughout life, and are interested in hearing opinions different than their own. They believe in equality for all people, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status or religion. They feel concerned about the effects of pollution and are willing to make lifestyle changes for the sake of the planet. Their faith is important to them.
8. What style guide do you use?
Broadview follows Canadian Press style guidelines and the Canadian Oxford Dictionary.
9. What are my rights?
We assume all articles submitted are original and unpublished, and submitted exclusively to us. If you have published another story on a similar topic, or are considering doing so, please let us know. If your material is copyrighted, we assume you are authorizing us to publish it.
If we accept your idea and publish the finished piece, Broadview buys first North American rights in English and French to your story, plus the right to archive your story and post it on our website at Broadview.org.
10. When can I expect to be paid?
Fees are negotiated story by story. Digital pieces are paid a flat fee and print pieces are paid by the word.
You will be paid only for the words you have been assigned, unless a revised word length has been agreed upon with your handling editor. We pay within 30 days of receipt of an invoice. You should submit your invoice with the first draft of your assigned story.
Your invoice can be emailed to us, and should contain the following information: Your name; your mailing address; the date of your invoice; the assignment completed; whether it’s an online or print piece; the month or issue in which it will be published; the amount owed.
11. Dos and don’ts
- Do meet your assigned deadline. But let us know if your story will be late. We may be able to arrange a deadline extension, but we get nervous if we don’t hear from you.
- Do write to your assigned word count, or a little bit over. Going over by 20 or 30 percent is acceptable as it gives us room to edit. Going over by 50 percent or more creates a lot of editing work. In print, writing less than your assigned word count means we may not be able to fill the page, and will likely send your story back for more copy.
- Do double-check your work. We fact check all print features. If you have been assigned a feature, you will also receive a document detailing how you can assist us in this procedure. Your checker will confirm everything in the piece is up-to-date and accurate, to make each feature as strong as possible. This involves reviewing transcripts or recordings from your interviews, and in some cases, your checker will need to speak to some or all of your sources. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to formally fact check the rest of the magazine or our online stories. We rely on your professionalism to ensure that the facts and spellings are correct.
- Do expect to be edited. We love it when writers work hard on their first drafts and submit a polished piece. We have a rigorous editing process to help turn good first drafts into great, finished pieces. Expect to go through two, three and sometimes four edits. Then, after your handling editor shows you the final edit and “signs off” on the piece, two more editors will read it, and may make final changes. In print, cuts often have to be made in the layout stage to fit a story onto the page. We do our best to respond with edits as quickly as possible after receiving your first draft. If your schedule requires receiving edits quickly, or if you foresee any unavailability during the editing process, please let us know.
- Do use subjects’ first and last names. (Even in personal stories or when the subject is a close friend or family member.) First and last names are a baseline of credible journalism across all story genres. If there’s a compelling reason why you’d prefer to withhold your subject’s name, the onus is on you, the writer, to explain to your handling editor why it’s necessary — and obtain his/her consent in advance of your first-draft deadline. Very rarely, the editors will make an exception and grant an anonymous or first-name-only subject. We’ll reserve this privilege for subjects who have revealed something that could significantly damage their familial or work relationships, could cost them their job or immigration status, could put them in physical jeopardy, could compound a mental health issue, and so on.
- Don’t show your draft to sources in your story. Often, interview subjects or other officials will ask to see the copy before it’s published. Sometimes they’re anxious about being published, and sometimes they want to help ensure the facts are correct. Either way, the answer is always “no,” as allowing sources to vet your copy undermines our editorial independence. If you’re writing a print feature, you can let the source know that the story will be fact checked. If you’re writing for another section, please involve your handling editor if anyone asks to see your copy prior to publication. You can offer to fact check the parts of the story that pertain directly to the source with them, but negotiating with a source can be tricky and our editorial team can guide you on proper fact-checking technique.
- Do write with our audience in mind. (For a description of our average reader, see point 7, above.) Our readers are the core of everything we do and we keep them in mind when making every editorial decision. If our average reader can’t understand or connect with a story, then it isn’t a piece for our publication.
Thank you for your interest in Broadview. We look forward to hearing from you!
APPENDIX A: Broadview Section Synopsis
Broadview’s front-of-the-book features short, energetic pieces written in a variety of visual formats. These include maps, surveys, photo essays and lists. While we are open to any and all pitches and formats that relate to ethics, faith and/or justice, we do have some reoccurring signature ideas:
This month in: Features a photo from a significant historic event that occurred in the same month as the published issue.
Survey says: Looks at national and international surveys and studies that demonstrate key cultural and societal issues.
Quick fix: Lists quotes from people across Canada, giving life advice on things like: how to keep calm when stressed, how to stay positive in a negative world, how to carve out personal time, etc.
Cool things: This section features interesting things churches, priests, nuns, ministers, congregations, faith groups, etc., are doing in Canada. For example: Cool things churches are doing to help the environment, cool things nuns are doing that you wouldn’t expect, cool things congregations are doing to help others, cool things churches are doing with their buildings.
Each issue features three columns from writers across Canada reflecting on issues relating to ethics, faith and/or justice. These are opinion pieces that average about 500 words in length and are written on a variety of topics, including why girls need to be taught consent, why one woman left the United Church to become Catholic, why white people should never ask “where are you from?” and how Canada got a new death penalty.
The Perspective section also includes one Q+A style interview (1,200 words) each month. Interview subjects should be compelling characters and have thoughtful insights regarding whatever field they work in. They can be faith leaders or theologians, advocates for the vulnerable, politicians, artists or anyone else who can illuminate an aspect of our three guiding themes: faith, justice and ethics.
We include three to four features in every issue that are at least 3,000 words in length. They are usually narrative in format, but can be personal or third-person. They are compelling stories that cover a broad set of issues relating to faith, ethical living and justice. To appeal to our national audience, we try to make sure each issue includes features that cover a variety of issues in a variety of formats, including profiles, investigative, essays, etc.
Spotlight is Broadview’s arts and culture section. It generally includes one culture essay, three reviews and an excerpt. We’re interested in artwork by and about underrepresented communities, artwork with a faith angle, and artwork that probes justice and ethics issues.
Our culture essays (1,150 words) generally include recent media and culture (books, movies, plays, paintings, etc.) in order make an argument, either about the works themselves or by connecting them to present-day issues and realities.
Our reviews are shorter (230 – 675 words) pieces that cover an individual piece of art, craft or culture. Reviews should focus on recent works (keep in mind our lead times can sometimes be in excess of four months) and be both descriptive and critical.
We do not generally assign our excerpts to writers, but if you have an idea for something we should feature, get in touch.
UCC in Focus
The United Church in Focus section covers our denomination, including news, important issues, inspiring successes and thoughtful theological conversations.
Each issue has an in-depth feature related to the United Church (about 1,500 words): it can focus on an emerging trend, big-picture actions happening at General Council, a challenge facing the church, an individual or community of faith doing something interesting, or anything else that’s starting conversations across the church.
We’re also looking for United Church news stories (300 words maximum). We love covering new initiatives and projects, unique human interest stories, or United Church people making a difference — let us know if your congregation is doing something new and fresh that everyone should know about.
The section also has a few regular departments (up to 600 words). Conundrums answer and explore an interesting question, the kind of thing many of us sat in the pews have been wondering. Verbatims are “as-told-to”-style interviews with interesting United Church people. Roads to Reconciliation spotlights initiatives and ideas from across the church that work toward right relations with Indigenous peoples. Spirit Stories are first-person short memoirs that focus on an inspiring, transformational, spiritual moment in the writer’s life.
Our back-of-the-book signature idea profiles someone who is a forward-thinker and leader in her, his or their field. This person is disrupting the normative thinking and pushing society forward in progressive directions. The page includes 175-word Q&A with the person profiled, which will throw to a longer interview on the website.
The web team publishes original stories with ties to spirituality, justice or ethical living. Pitch us new, thoughtful takes on current events and social issues, including news stories, opinion pieces, Q&As, personal essays and service pieces. Digital stories usually run between 400 and 600 words.