Letters to the Editor
Send letters to:
1 Alumni House
Berkeley, CA 94720
Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may be posted on the Cal Alumni Association website.
California magazine is an editorially independent, general-interest magazine published by the Cal Alumni Association. Like Berkeley itself, we’re different and proud of it. Our editorial voice is bold but not showy, smart but not pretentious, edgy without snark or condescension. We aim to be tough-minded but big-hearted. We don’t do puff pieces.
We care about the words on the page, in terms of both style and substance. Our stories have been anthologized in New California Writing, Best American Essays, and Best American Science and Nature Writing.
California seeks pitches from new and established writers. Query us with stories, not topics—ones that have a strong UC Berkeley connection but that would interest readers no matter where they went to school.
In addition to our quarterly print magazine, which goes to nearly 100,000 dues-paying members, we publish fresh content online every week, with the goal of keeping people informed about both the world of Berkeley, and Berkeley in the world.
Potential contributors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the publication by browsing print issues or visiting californiamag.org. Keep in mind that all stories are fact-checked and edited for accuracy, so be prepared to provide your sources and back-up materials should you get an assignment.
We accept pitches year-round and pay upon acceptance. We buy first publication rights and exclusivity for 60 days in all formats. Rates vary by story length, form, amount of research/sources, etc.
We try to respond to every query we get, but if for some reason we don’t get back to you within two weeks, we’re probably not interested.
Send query letters as .docx files to email@example.com with “Pitch” or “Story Submission” in the subject line.
Remember: We’re looking for stories, not topics. Hook us with a narrative, spin us a good yarn.
Broadly speaking, our stories generally fall into the following categories:
Who are the faces behind the headlines, and what are their stories? Take, for instance, the anthropologist who devoted his career to finding Bigfoot. Or the former Iran hostage turned undercover reporter who narrowly escaped arrest and won a National Magazine Award for his exposé on the private prison industry. Or the Berkeley eccentric who foiled the Russians. Stories like these bring flesh and blood to important issues. They’re Berkeley stories, but they would be of interest to anyone.
SCIENCE AND SCHOLARSHIP
Berkeley is the top public university in the world with Nobel laureates in multiple fields. It cranks out scientific studies like hair metal bands do reunion tours, and we’d like to keep up with that pace as much as possible. We’re looking for pieces that present new fields of inquiry such as Big History and the study of the human microbiome. We run stories about how scientists like Saul Perlmutter and Jennifer Doudna are advancing the frontiers of knowledge, and about how Berkeley expertise informs policy on matters like energy, artificial intelligence, and climate change. We like science stories that, with minimal jargon, put discoveries in context, make us appreciate why they matter and understand what the implications are. And sometimes we tackle the really profound questions, like whether peeing in the pool is dangerous or just kinda gross.
The magazine is keen to tell compelling stories about Berkeley’s illustrious history, whether by delving into that thing that happened with the Hells Angels, or the history of Walter Gordon, Berkeley’s first black cop, or re-telling the story of the campus’s naming. Of course, history works best with a contemporary hook, even if it’s just an anniversary, as in the case of the centennial of the Spanish Flu. In your pitch, tells us what new angle or information you bring to the story, why the story is relevant now, and how you’d tell it.
Just as Berkeley is a rockstar in science, the campus is an Einstein in the arts. We’re not looking for calendar fodder, we want to tell readers about artists who push their medium forward, who make unexpected leaps, or make the old resoundingly new again.
NEWS AND EVENTS (we’re picky about these)
We cover Berkeley-related developments, news and events, but be warned: we’re picky. We don’t want any bland play-by-plays about what one professor said to another professor at a conference. Even if one of them said something mind-bendingly profound, it’s probably wiser to pitch it as a longer, more fully researched feature. That said, if you can cover a campus happening in an original and exciting way, we just might be down.
Thanks for reading. We look forward to hearing from you.
- You may send in a newspaper clipping or obituary from another publication for the staff to edit.
- If you prefer to write the obituary yourself, keep in mind that submissions should be kept short—three or four sentences; include information to identify the deceased, with a key highlight or two.
- Submissions will appear in the issue for which they meet the published deadlines; if submissions exceed the amount of space allotted in an issue, the most recent obituaries may be held until the next issue.
- Submissions that are dated more than six months from date of death will be printed only if space permits.
- All submissions are subject to editing by staff for clarity and length.
- Format:The first line should read:
“Name, Advanced Berkeley degree (if any), Date of death, in Place (City, State).”If the deceased died while traveling, also specify city and state of residence.
“John Smith, M.A. ’45, November 12, in Patagonia, AZ. A resident of Fargo, ND, ...”The last line lists survivors in the following order: widow/widower, children, and then grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“He is survived by his wife, Dora ’40; two children; and three grandchildren.“The widow(er) is named. Only the number of offspring is cited, unless one of the children or grandchildren is a Cal grad and the year of graduation is known. In that case, you may include all the children’s names.
“He is survived by his wife, Dora ’40; children Tom ’82 and Lindsay; and two grandchildren.“
- Do not mention ancestors, predeceased spouses, extended family members, or in-laws.
- Please list requests for charitable donations only if they are UC Berkeley or CAA entities.
We prefer that obituaries be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “In Memoriam: first name, last name, class year.”
Submissions also can be faxed to 510.642.6100, attention “In Memoriam,” or mailed to:
1 Alumni House
Berkeley, CA 94720
For information on how to submit Class Notes to the magazine, go to Class Notes.
Submissions may be edited for length and clarity, and may be posted on the Cal Alumni Association website.