HOW TO PITCH: Natalie Hopkinson, Editor at The Root

This week’s HTP is again more for the writers than the publicists. Sit tight publicists, I’ve got you covered next week. If you’re an essayist or analyst, journalist, political commentator, or just a thinking person who happens to write about African American issues from time to time, you’ll definitely want to get your stuff in the Root. (I’ve been toying around with an essay for a few weeks, myself). Anyway, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Root, it’s an amazing online magazine full of smart, perceptive cultural commentary. It’s published by Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, and offices are here in Washington, DC. From the site:

The Root is a daily online magazine that provides thought-provoking commentary on today’s news from a variety of black perspectives. The site also hosts an interactive genealogical section to trace one’s ancestry through AfricanDNA.com, a DNA testing site co-founded by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who is also The Root’s Editor-In-Chief. The Root aims to be an unprecedented departure from traditional American journalism, raising the profile of black voices in mainstream media and engaging anyone interested in black culture around the world.

I recently caught up with Root Associate Editor Natalie Hopkinson, formerly of the Washington Post Outlook and Style sections, and co-author of Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip Hop Generation. Here’s How to Pitch Natalie.

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The Basics: Natalie Hopkinson, Associate Editor, The Root (www.theroot.com) I assign and edit pieces for this African American interest Web magazine and specialize in cultural essays and multimedia coverage. I started at The Root a week before it launched in January 2008.

What kind of stories/people/companies are you most interested in covering, and in what context? We are African American interest so essays can be pretty much anything under the sun that is of interest to people across the black Diaspora.

What’s the best pitch/query letter/phone call about a story you’ve gotten recently and why? The most recent one that was great was about the cultural-political meaning of the first black Ms. France by a recent college grad who had spent some time there as an exchange student. Also a video series by a comedian.

What are your current “pitching pet peeves”? Too much Obama. Everyone has something to say about him, and we will always have Obama stuff but it gets a little tiring, especially when it is the first piece a new writer is pitching.

What advice can you give writers who are thinking about pitching you? Try to give us stuff that we haven’t heard about. The Ms. France thing I haven’t seen covered much. Also make it unique perspective only you could write about a current topic with enough historical context that will make a 800 word essay both timely and timeless.

What’s your preferred method of contact? My work email is best for the first piece.

Who are your favorite journalists? What book are you reading? What’s your favorite cafe? My favorite journalists. I love Robin Givhan at the Post. No one does cultural criticism better. I also love the New York Times Sunday magazine, always new ideas ahead of the curve and smart. I am reading Patrick French’s new biography of V.S. Naipaul. My favorite cafe is Big Bear Cafe. It is near my house in D.C.

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